If long-gun registry still existed, police could have found killer’s gun, inquest says

“There were many ways he could have gotten guns in Renfrew County.”

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Police never found out where triple murderer Basil Borutski got the 12-gauge shotgun he used to kill two of his three victims on September 22, 2015.

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Borutski strangled Carol Culleton at her cabin near Combermere. He took Culleton’s car and drove to Wilno, where he shot and killed Anastasia Kuzyk. Then he drove to Foymount Road, where he shot and killed Nathalie Warmerdam.

Borutski, who had been convicted of domestic violence against Kuzyk and Warmerdam, had twice been banned from possessing firearms, an inquest into the murders of the three women heard in Pembroke on Thursday.

A judge can issue a restraining order for up to 10 years. In some cases, such as stalking, there is also a mandatory prohibition that covers all firearms for life, Matt Storey, an officer with Ontario’s Chief Firearms Office, told the inquiry.

A judge handed Borutski the first type of ban in 2012. He received a lifetime ban in 2014, but continued to carry a firearms possession and acquisition license in his wallet.

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Although the license was revoked in 2012, his card was not seized by police because that specific order was not issued by the court, said Storey, who is also an OPP officer. Ontario.

One way Borutski could have acquired a firearm in 2015 was simply to present the Possession and Acquisition License, known as PAL, to a private seller.

As it stands, a business that sells firearms can swipe or key in PAL card information, which is found to be “invalid” if there is a red flag, according to the investigation. As of May 18, under new federal legislation, all firearm sales, whether through a business or person-to-person, require verification to confirm that the buyer and seller hold permits.

In order to acquire a PAL, a candidate must take and pass a course on the safe handling of firearms. The application asks a number of questions and for a personal history, including the names of spouses and ex-spouses. An app could set off a number of red flags, Storey said. A PAL can be reviewed or revoked immediately for matters such as certain criminal charges or if a suspect is apprehended under the Mental Health Act.

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Borutski applied for and was granted a renewal of his PAL in 2012, not wanting to let it expire pending the outcome of the charges in court. At the time, licenses were usually returned if charges were stayed or withdrawn, Storey told the inquest.

Storey said that when he was appointed to the gun bureau, he took it upon himself to revoke and deny further licenses due to red flags.

“The Firearms Act allows us to revoke or refuse these licenses. We are determined to do this more proactively,” he said.

The survey was tasked with finding ways to prevent domestic violence and deaths in rural communities. Previous witnesses have talked about the problems associated with the possession of firearms.

Deborah Kasdorff, former director of the Renfrew County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, said she would often learn about gun concerns during the bail process when she interviewed victims about the presence of firearms in the house, the number of firearms and their location. .

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“It’s not uncommon for a woman to say, ‘I bet within five minutes of calling 911, someone asked someone to take these guns out of the house to their friend or a neighbor down the street or somewhere.’ This is good information for us,” she told the inquest.

Sometimes a victim or survivor will report that the defendant summons someone as bail who hides firearms for the defendant, Kasdorff said. “We can provide this information to the Crown prosecutor.”

The inquest heard from Warmerdam’s daughter, Valerie, that her mother had signed as surety for Borutski’s bail conditions, which included that he could not have firearms, when he moved into the house in Warmerdam. His mother took the gun safety course in part so that guns that had belonged to Borutski’s family for generations would not be destroyed, Valerie told the inquest.

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On Tuesday, the inquest heard police were concerned about the guns in the house and expressed those concerns to Warmerdam, who assured police the guns would be locked in a safe with a chain and padlock additional. When new charges were brought against Borutski, Warmerdam arranged with the police to seize the weapons while he was in custody.

Borutski was also prohibited from possessing ammunition. Valerie told the inquest that he was cleaning cars in a friend’s junkyard and found shotgun shells under the seats of the vehicles.

“And the reality is in Renfrew County, it’s very believable. You clean 50 cars and the odds of finding a caliber or some type of bullet rolled under the seats or sitting in the ashtrays or whatever is entirely reasonably believable,” she said.

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“There were many ways he could have obtained firearms in Renfrew County.”

Storey offered the inquest some thoughts on what he would like to see to help prevent domestic violence deaths with guns. The long gun registry was abolished about 10 years ago. If it still existed, the police might have been able to find the weapon used by Borutski in the murders. The registry would also help track firearms that have been lost and found.

In the meantime, the courts have overturned decisions made by the firearms office to revoke the permits. Storey would like court officials, such as Crown attorneys and judges, to become more familiar with the Firearms Act.

COVID-19 backlogs in court also mean firearms cases are thrown out, along with intimate partner violence cases, Storey said.

“The charges go away and they get their firearms back. Then it comes down to where we have to try to make that decision now that it’s been through the court and trying to figure out whether that person should still have guns or not,” he said.

“And then our decisions are appealed and in effect overturned. And allow these people to have guns again.

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