A sixteen-year old Hutterite boy was accidentally shot and killed at his colony near Morinville, Alberta, about 40 km north of Edmonton, on Wednesday last week.

According to one news report, someone was cleaning a gun which discharged and killed the unnamed boy. He was rushed to a hospital in a nearby community where he was pronounced dead. The Mounties in Morinville who investigated the accident told the paper that “the RCMP investigation is continuing, but police believe the incident to be non-suspicious in nature. The matter has been referred to the medical examiner’s office.”

Another news story gives a bit more information. An 18-year old man was out shooting gophers on colony property Wednesday morning but his gun malfunctioned. Later, he was in a shed disassembling the gun to fix it when it accidentally discharged just as his younger brother was walking past. He was hit in his torso. Colony residents were doing their best to administer first aid when the ambulance arrived.

Staff-Sergeant Dan McNaughton, commander of the RCMP detachment at Morinville, said, “It is a terrible coincidence of timing. There is absolutely not a piffle of evidence to support there being any sinister activity at all.”

The Hutterites are absolute pacifists, for whom shooting another human being would be inconceivable. There is, of course, conflict in their colonies, which they work hard to resolve. But a shooting death can only be interpreted as a tragic accident, and doubtless the Mounties in Central Alberta are quite aware of the Hutterite beliefs.