Josie Weightman, a teacher and dancer with Just For Kicks Dance Studio in Salmon Arm, was shocked by the Salmon Arm shooting on April 14 when she went to Penticton on April 15 to find herself confronted with more violence. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap dancer stays across street from Penticton shooting day after Salmon Arm tragedy

Just for Kicks teacher and fellow dancers placed in lockdown, watch police response from Airbnb

What began as a celebratory weekend of dance throughout the Okanagan soon turned into a series of horrible shocks for a Just For Kicks teacher/dancer.

Josie Weightman, 19, had travelled with her fellow dancers from their Salmon Arm dance studio to Vernon for the Shine Dance Festival, which stretched from Thursday, April 11 to Sunday. It was amid the excitement of the festival she heard the terrible news Sunday of the shooting in Salmon Arm, which killed one man and left another wounded. The site of the shooting sits next door to one of Just for Kicks’ studios. Weightman learned her boyfriend’s friend is brother to the man charged in the killing.

“I have to admit it was quite shocking. It’s just super bizarre how it’s been going down. It’s so weird in such a small community, as well. We were all just shocked.” As they learned more details, it became more devastating.

“I’m just so sorry for the family, it’s just so heartbreaking.”

The next stop in the dancers Okanagan circuit was the Kiwanis Music Festival in Penticton. Weightman, family friends and other dancers were going to stay at an Airbnb there.

“We’re all really close, family friends, we dance with each other.”

Read more: Schools, community centres wait behind closed doors during Penticton shootings

Read more: Four people shot dead in Penticton, one man in custody

Read more: Penticton mayor speaks out after shootings

Read more: Four victims killed in Penticton shooting remembered at vigil

Some left Sunday night for Penticton, Weightman and her brother decided to drive down Monday morning.

“We get excited for Penticton every year – we go down there, we pretty much get to take a week-long vacation in sunny Penticton.”

She and her brother arrived between 9:30 and 10 a.m. As they were unloading and unpacking their belongings, they heard loud noises.

Was that gunshots? one of the dancers asked. The dancer’s mom said no, Weightman recounts.

“She was like, ‘What are you talking about, you didn’t hear gunshots.”

They put it down to construction about two doors away.

It was soon time to take one of the dancers to the festival venue. Weightman drove her, but as they were leaving, they noticed police cars. They checked back with their friends and learned there had been a shooting.

“We weren’t too panicked about it, we thought we were probably in the safest place we could be, with police around,” she says.

But while they were at the festival venue, things got scary. They were put in lockdown and a woman working there informed them RCMP told her a dangerous man might be outside the building.

“We were like, oh wow, this is a little serious now, this is kind of scary. After about 10 minutes they said we were no longer on lockdown, they said it was okay, the guy was gone.”

When they returned to the Airbnb, they realized they had been frighteningly close to the shooting. Police in SWAT gear and the K-9 unit were swarming around. As the dancers watched out the window, a man would come and update them regularly. They were told that the person who did the shooting lived across the street and the shooting took place in a house two doors down.

“We were just shocked, just, just I don’t even know. It was just so devastating to that town, especially since we go there, and it is such a happy and safe place to go to. It was quite disturbing to know something had happened right across the road from us.”

Read more: Funds being raised for victims of Salmon Arm church shooting

Read more: Salmon Arm Church enveloped with care after shooting

Read more: ‘Terrible, terrible thing’: Former coaches of accused Salmon Arm shooter shocked

Read more: Salmon Arm churches respond to shooting

Read more: Man charged with first-degree murder in Salmon Arm church shooting

Read more: City of Salmon Arm flags fly at half mast as city mourns church shooting victim

That night the dancers were scheduled to take part in the festival, which they did, putting aside thoughts of the day.

Weightman says the woman with them used to be a social worker, so she was able to help them stay calm, not to let their imaginations get the best of them. The day after was definitely worse, she says, as the reality of the four people killed in Penticton set in.

“We felt so bad for the families.”

As the days pass, Weightman says she’s feeling a bit more cautious when she’s out and about.

“More than anything, I feel bad for the cities – of Penticton and Salmon Arm, just because it’s just so unbelievable to think of that.

She describes the time in Penticton as a very eye-opening experience.

“It could happen anywhere and it makes you realize there are some dangerous people in this world and sometimes evil just takes over.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shuswap men targeted in police ‘high risk’ search remain in custody

Bail hearing tentatively set for Feb. 4 in Provincial Court in Salmon Arm

Parents unhappy mould issue at Sicamous school not made public sooner

School District #83 says clean up of trouble areas will address air quality concerns

Fair pay? Revelstoke council seeks wage similar to Salmon Arm counterparts

Neighbouring mountain town pursues different path to increase remuneration

Proposed trail improvements would better connect Salmon Arm schools

Project would upgrade 350 metres of trail near middle, secondary schools

Shuswap mental health study: Grocery stores a destination for people in need of connection

Ongoing interviews provide useful insight to suicide prevention efforts

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Health upgrades in South Okanagan and Similkameen forecast to cost nearly $10 million

Capital projects include CT scanner, medical vacuum system, ultrasounds and more

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Most Read