Tuesday, March 9, 2010

He Was A Quiet Man

"He was a quiet man."
That's what neighbours always say when the guy next door turns out to be a killer.
And that's basically what Dave has to say about 70-year-old Fred Preston who is known for a lot of things up Sundridge way, but who will be remembered for only one thing: the man who allegedly shot and killed OPP Officer Vu Pham.
Preston lived in the house across the road from where Dave grew up. He knew him as well as anybody in the small town in northern Ontario, where the population is maybe 1,000 on a good day. Preston was the Reeve of Joly Township for several years and Dave actually served on council with him (yeah, my baby is more than just a pretty face). 
Dave never would have guessed that Preston would turn out the way he did. "But who knows what a man is like when no one is around to see him? Who knows what he was like around his wife."
One thing's for sure, though. Fred Preston looked good on paper.
He was a local fixture. A politician. A logger. A chainsaw artist. And, according to local gossip, a man whose wife cheated on him regularly over many, many years.
Perhaps that had something to do with Preston's act of rage.
According to reports, he took his gun and went looking ... maybe he was looking for revenge against the woman who had finally left him ... maybe he wanted to kill her ... maybe he just wanted to scare her. Maybe nobody will ever know.
The tragedy of this story isn't Fred, though, who is in critical condition in hospital as I write this. It's the man he allegedly killed. It's the 37-year-old policeman who died in hospital yesterday with his wife and three young children by his side.
What is most bizarre about this whole story, at least to me, is the inexplicable connection Vu Pham had with Preston: they both had roots in Sundridge. 
The adopted son of a church minister, Vu Pham lived there for several years. He still has family in the area. I haven't heard whether they knew each other. But it's possible. In a town the size of Sundridge, it's hard not to know pretty much everybody.
Maybe he and Preston bumped elbows at the grocery store or attended the same special event. 
But even if they never met in Sundridge, they certainly met yesterday.
Officer Pham was working in the Seaforth area and was called to a domestic disturbance. 
Details are sketchy here, but reports say Pham never made it to the house because he encountered the suspect's white pick-up truck enroute.
Something happened when the truck was stopped.
Something went tragically wrong.
Shots were fired. Many shots. And two men lay on the ground with critical injuries.
One a police officer with connections to Sundridge.
One a well-known Sundridge resident.
Both hundreds of miles away on a lonely back road in southwestern Ontario.

I send my most heartfelt and sorrowful prayers to Officer Pham's family. I understand that he was a remarkable and loving man who cared deeply for his family and his community. I am so very sorry for their loss.


  1. I was going to ask if you knew anything about this guy, apparently you do.

  2. Yeah, huh? I've been feeling shell-shocked all afternoon.

  3. Hey, my name's Fred Preston too, and I haven't killed anyone - yet. I'm too busy trading stocks and making money to bother with something as silly as killing.

    Oh well, I guess time will tell, maybe the market will crash and set me off, hell, one never knows.

  4. My condolences to Mr. Pham's family.

    I hope this church goer (Preston) rots forever in the hell that he so fervently believes in.


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