Desmond inquiry looks at how Afghanistan veteran legally obtained firearm

The inquiry investigating why an Afghanistan war veteran killed his family and himself in 2017 has turned its attention to how the mentally ill former infantryman was able to legally purchase a firearm.

The provincial fatality inquiry underway in Guysborough, N.S., heard Tuesday that police were called to Lionel Desmond’s home in Oromocto, N.B., on Nov. 27, 2015, after his wife Shanna received texts from him indicating he was contemplating suicide.

RCMP Const. Steven Richard testified that he and the other officers dispatched to the home knew Desmond had been diagnosed with depression and PTSD – and they were also aware he kept a firearm in his garage.

Richard told the inquiry that Shanna Desmond, who was living in Nova Scotia at the time, told him that her husband was in the process of being medically discharged from the military.

The constable testified that he arrested Lionel Desmond under the provincial Mental Health Act when it became clear he was a threat to himself, but the officer insisted the retired corporal did not appear to be a threat to anyone else.

Richard confirmed the Mounties seized a Savage .223 rifle from a locked case in Desmond’s garage, and he indicated that police in Nova Scotia later seized two other rifles Desmond kept in his wife’s home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.

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