Inquest jury hears details of police response to murders as they unfolded

Yesterday the ongoing inquest into the deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam heard evidence from Derek Needham, who was the OPP Critical Incident Commander responsible for coordinating the response to the crimes. He revealed that he wished he had known that Borutski was targeting more than one residence and what vehicle he had been driving. However, based on what he did know at the time, Needham said he wouldn’t have changed how the force responded to what was happening. “With the information that we had, there is nothing that I would change.”

Carol Culleton was the first victim and Borutski strangled her at her cottage in Combermere. Using her car he then drove to Anastasia Kuzyk’s home in Wilno, less than half an hour away, where he shot her to death as her sister ran for her life. He then drove to the third victim’s residence in Bonnechere Valley Township, also about a half-hour’s drive, and shot Nathalie Warmerdam to death.

Needham told the inquest that the OPP received two 9-1-1 calls within a matter of minutes. The first call timed at 8:52 a.m. reported that a man was in Kuzyk’s residence with a firearm. Needham immediately mobilized specialty teams and frontline officers as he himself began driving from Lanark County to the scene, a distance of about 130 km., the intent being to set up containment of that residence.

The second 9-1-1 call timed at 9:20 a.m. was placed by Warmerdam’s son in Bonnechere Valley Township. It was only after that call came in that police were able to make the connection that Kuzyk and Warmerdam were both victims of Borutski. “So that all transpired within a grand total of only a few minutes,” Needham said. He said that his priorities then were to get Warmerdam’s son to safety and to contain their family residence. By this time the OPP had divided their resources between the two residences in Bonnechere Valley and Wilno.

Needham then went on to reveal what led to Borutski’s arrest later that day. He said that around noon he received a “ping” telling him of the location of Borutski’s cell phone being Pembroke. So additional police resources were sent there. However, 20 minutes later Needham received a second ping that tracked the cell phone to Kinburn near Ottawa. He then turned the investigation over to the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) who arrested Borutski later that same afternoon, at which time he still had a firearm in his possession.

Needham was then asked again if he was offered the opportunity to repeat that day with all the information he had at the time if he would have done things the same way. He responded by saying, “I understand the optics, especially when it comes to the delay in some of the questions that have been raised today. And I understand where some of those questions have come from. And I’d likely ask the same questions if the roles were reversed.” He continued, “But based on the information, the environment and the resources that I had on that day, what I knew at that moment, in every moment as the incidents unfolded, there’s nothing I would change in terms of my response. No.”

The inquest continues.

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