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Salmon Arm church shooter in psychiatric care denied escorted outings

Matrix Gathergood was found not criminally responsible in 2019 fatal shooting
Matrix Gathergood, pictured here in a 2011 file photo, is being detained and receiving psychiatric care following the fatal shooting at a Salmon Arm church in April 2019. (Salmon Arm Observer file)

The man found not criminally responsible in the 2019 fatal shooting at a Salmon Arm church is to remain in custody and and continue to receive psychiatric care.

On Jan. 22, 2024, the BC Review Board (BCRB) conducted a hearing to review the disposition of Matrix Savage Paladin Gathergood, who had been charged with murder in the death of church leader Gordon Parmenter, and aggravated assault for wounding another church member, after the April 14, 2019 shooting at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ.

In 2022, a BC Supreme Court judge determined Gathergood was not criminally responsible for his actions due to a mental disorder. He was ordered to be confined to hospital while the case was forwarded to the Forensic Psychiatric Commission.

Gathergood had also been charged with arson, related to a fire at Parmenter’s residence prior to April 14, 2019. The charge was stayed.

In its January 2024 disposition, the BCRB notes Gathergood is “diagnosed with schizophrenia, refractory to treatment and cannabis use disorder in remission in a controlled environment.” It determined Gathergood “continues to pose a significant risk to the public,” and that the “appropriate disposition is one of custody…”

Arriving at this decision, the board reflected on the testimonies of caregivers including Gathergood’s treating psychiatrist, Dr. Miroslava Stingu-Baxter.

According to Stingu-Baxter, Gathergood attended rehabilitation programs throughout the year as recommended and received positive feedback from facilitators. When asked about the April 2019 offences, he said he was “obviously very sick” at the time and wished he had not acted in such a violent manner. However, he still believes that speaking about “the New World Order” would threaten his safety.

“Mr. Gathergood told her: ‘I really wish I didn’t have to kill again,’” reads the disposition. “He denied plans to harm anyone but appeared intense during the conversation.”

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Regarding the fire, Stingu-Baxter testified that Gathergood had no recollection of the incident, and that he said he preferred not to speak about it.

Stingu-Baxter said Gathergood needed to continue with rehabilitation programs to “help him understand and accept his illness, learn about the need for medication and be more transparent in his communications with the treatment team.”

Gathergood’s risk is challenging to manage, according to Stingu-Baxter, “because although he is an exemplary patient in many ways, he has not been enthusiastic about resuming his clozapine medication and has poor insight into his symptoms and the need for anti-psychotic medication.”

The BCRB noted that in September 2023, Gathergood had resumed attending staff-escorted outings “and during the year completed 54 such outings without concern.”

During the hearing, Gathergood agreed to answer questions. According to the BCRB, he said he was disappointed by the hearing as he “hoped to be approved unescorted access to the community.” He also said he does not need medication and would prefer not to take it.

Asked about the “New World Order,” Gathergood advised it was like “Masonry.”

“Mr. Gathergood said that if he talked about it, he would be in danger,” reads the disposition. “When asked about the danger he said that any ‘Mason’ could take a contract to kill him and he would have no way of knowing who might kill him. Thus, his statement to Dr. Stingu-Baxter that he hoped he would not have to kill again.”

Gathergood called Parmenter a “high-ranking Mason” and said he had to kill him to avoid Parmenter “ordering him to be killed.”

During Gathergood’s trial in 2020, testimony in court touched on the relationship between the two men, that Parmenter had been something of a father figure to Gathergood over the years.

The court also heard that Gathergood thought Parmenter blamed him for the Parmenters’ move from their home in Silver Creek.

The BCRB said it was concerned by Gathergood’s statements to Stingu-Baxter and at the review hearing.

“In such circumstances we find that Mr. Gathergood would not hesitate to kill whoever he believed threatened him,” reads the disposition.

Asked if the board should be concerned about Gathergood’s “continuing ability to access the community under escort,” Stingu-Baxter reassured the panel he would not have access until his “clozapine levels returned to therapeutic levels and his mental state was stable.”

The BCRB ordered that Gathergood be detained in custody, noting “should his conditions improve dramatically, he may seek an early review to determine if he should be granted unescorted access to the community.”

“However, there is no evidence that this is likely in the next 12 months,” concluded the BCRB.

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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