Jeff Green | Jun 10, 2020
The small community of Parham has been left reeling by events on Sunday night. (June 7)
OPP reports, summarised in short form below, document how a backyard fire call escalated quickly into a shooting incident and structure fires that left a house and St. James Anglican destroyed, and a man in custody facing numerous charges.
The next morning, community members congregated (socially distancing to a degree) in the brilliant sunshine on both sides of road 38, accompanied by a veritable flock of cbc, ctv, and global news reporters, everyone was there, intact, to tell the tale. Physical damage was, for the most part contained to the two buildings formed an eerie backdrop for this unusual gathering.
(note – among all the people who were gathered, only the on-camera tv reporters seemed to be wearing masks)
“Someone must have been looking out for us,” said Central Frontenac Fire Chief Jamie Riddell on the phone later in the day, “echoing a feeling of relief, amidst the shock and exhaustion, in Parham on Monday.
The fact that the incident on Sunday night featured a fire set by a community member, who then shot at his neighbours, and then managed to leave the community before police could apprehend him, and was at a large all night, created an uncomfortable parallel with the tragic events in Nova Scotia a couple of months ago.
In Parham on Monday, there was shock, disbelief a realisation that this will take time to get over, particularly for the youth in the community, but thankfully no death.
The OPP have reported the following:
"The Frontenac Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) charged Brian Daniel Mosher in connection with incidents surrounding a fire and shootings in the hamlet of Parham on June 7.
Shortly after 8:30pm, OPP officers responded to reports of gunshots in the Village of Parham. One person was treated by Frontenac County Paramedics for a minor injury. A fire, which started in a residence, spread to an adjacent church, destroying both buildings.
At approximately 7:30am on June 8, 2020 OPP officers arrested a suspect at a residence in the Hartington area, south of Parham. The arrest was made without incident.
Charges have now been laid in the case.
Mosher is facing 11 charges, including: attempt to commit murder using firearm - two counts, discharge a firearm into or at a place in a reckless manner, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm - two counts, arson - damage to property - two counts, using a firearm while committing offence, careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose, unauthorized possession of a firearm.”
According to eyewitnesses in Parham, Dan Mosher, as he is known locally, lived in the brick house next to St, James Anglican Church for about three years.
Although he reportedly kept to himself for the most part, he was known to police, and in recent months issues around road rage incidents have brought more police attention than before.
Early Sunday evening, neighbours notice that a large fire was underway in Mosher’s back yard, not far from the back of his house.
Central Frontenac Firefighters responded to a call from a local resident about the fire. The initial call was about a potential burn bylaw infraction, and was not an emergency call.
According to Central Frontenac Fire Chief Jamie Riddell, the firefighters who arrived to investigate the call were confronted by an angry man with a firearm (Dan Mosher) who chased them off, and fired at them as they drove off. They called in a 911 emergency call and headed to the Parham Fire Station.
His next-door neighbour reports that Mosher yelled "get out of here, Parham is going to burn" when she went to her porch and saw the large fire. The neighbour shuttered themselves in their house at that point.
Another neighbour, Jordan Lowery, who lives above Goodfellow's Funeral Home just up the road, received a phone call telling him there was a fire in Parham. He decided to investigate. Lowery and another neighbour, were at this point located at Eagle Lake Road, about 100 metres from the house, when they saw a man emerge from between the house and the church, shot gun in hand.
Mosher yelled that Parham was going to burn
“He kind of looked me in the eye and then fired,” Lower recalls. Both Lowery and his neighbour were grazed in the rib area with bird shot.
“It felt like someone had kicked me in the ribs,” Lowery recalls,
They were both eventually treated by paramedics. Lowery has not required any further treatment but his neighbour went to hospital the following day.
“After the shots, I called 911, made sure [my neighbour] was safe, and went back to my house to tell my girlfriend to lock the door. I was going to try and help get their other neighbours away from the street, but OPP officers had already arrived. They told me to stay back,” he said.
Before or just after Lowery was shot, at least one other neighbour was shot at and was not hit, as he ran back to his own house. There is another report that Mosher rammed his truck into the house directly across Road 38 from his own, and that he threatened at least one young person who drove by on a bike.
OPP crews arrived in force secured the road and went door to door to make sure no one was exposed to danger out of doors. They then and went to Mosher’s house. By this time the house was on fire.
Fire crews from Parham, Sharbot Lake, Mountain Grove, and South Frontenac had taken up positions in the vicinity but had to remain outside a cordoned off area for their own safety as police were dealing with an active shooter
Police escorted people from at least 4 neighbouring properties to the Parham General Store (aka Hopes Store). Through Twitter, they warned members of the local community to stay indoors.
Dan Mosher, however, was nowhere to be found. The CP rail tracks are located behind the house, up an embankment, but it is still not known if he made it up there and followed the tracks to evade police or got by some other way.
Fire crews had to wait as they saw the house go up and the fire begin to approach the church as police continued to search for Mosher,
Central Frontenac Fire Chief Jamie Riddell, who was on the scene, said he was surprised how long the church resisted the flames, before it, too, caught fire,
"That was the gut-wrenching part, to see the church standing there, knowing we were in position to do a defensive attack on the house to prevent the church from burning, but there was nothing we could do under the circumstances," said Riddell.
The church did eventually go up in flames, and was totally destroyed with the exception of the façade at the front.
By the time they were given the all clear at approximately 11pm, fire crews swooped in and prevented the fire from spreading to any of the other building in Parham.
"We were particularly concerned about the buildings across the street," Riddell said,
The red brick house where Mosher lived was originally the manse for the church.
Both the house and the church were moved from their original location to make way for the rail line that passes through Parham.
The church was built in 1887, and the house shortly after. They were both moved in 1912, from a short distance away.
Lois Webster, one of the parishioners at St, James, has organised numerous fundraising drives to help maintain the church.
"I first went to the church on a Sunday, 58 years ago, the day after I was married to Richard [her husband]," she said when contacted on Monday. "It's been a part of my life since then."
Because of COVID-19, the last church service was in February. Services were held at St, James every second Sunday during the winter-time.
Bishop Michael Oulton met with parishioners and community members in the parking lot of the church on Monday (June 8) at 4pm. He conducted a brief ceremony and met with community members as well.
“I wanted to be there today,” he said when contacted by phone afterwards, “to visit with everyone. It was such a traumatic event for everyone and I wanted to show my support.”
Bishop Oulton has fond memories of St. James, having participated in numerous anniversary celebrations, including the125th anniversary in 2012 and the 130th in 2017.
He said it is too soon to tell what will happen at the site once it is released by the OPP, who are still investigating, but the insurance adjuster came all the way from Hamilton to survey the damage on Monday.
The manse was sold off in the 1970's, and has had several owners in the intervening years. The widow of a former Anglican Minister who served the local diocese 50 years ago, described the church as a 'beautiful well-built little church. The church congregation has done significant work in the building in recent years.
The News has learned that police have attended at Mr. Mosher's house on several occasions over the last 18 months or so, and according to one report, even on the afternoon of the fire, investigating a driving related incident that had been called into them earlier in the day from earlier in the day.
Central Frontenac Mayor Frances Smith, who is also a member of St. James sister congregation at St. Andrew’s Anglican (Sharbot Lake), as well as local councillors Brent Cameron and Niki Dowdy, have all expressed their support for the community and condolences for members of the congregation at St. James.
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