Saturday, Dec 11, 2004

Husband who fatally shot teacher remanded in custody

Canadian Press

Brampton, Ont. — Clad in a white, prison-issue uniform, Erhun Candir looked stoic Saturday as he gazed around a hushed courtroom, charged in the shooting death of his wife of nearly two decades at a local high school.

His wisps of greying hair slightly askew, the 62-year-old did not utter a word during his brief bail appearance before a judge.

Mr. Candir, charged with first-degree murder, was remanded in custody until Monday.

Aysegul Candir, who had taught English as a second language at Bramalea Secondary School for two years, was shot in the head in the school parking lot Friday and died in hospital hours later.

The shooting prompted a school-wide lockdown and sent students diving under their desks for cover where they remained for several hours before being allowed out.

The 47-year-old woman was a teacher in her native Turkey from 1980 to 1986 before immigrating to Canada. She taught at numerous schools throughout the Toronto area before beginning at Bramalea. She was well known for organizing social events for staff, principal John Chasty said.

“The staff at Bramalea are a family, and the death of Aysegul Candir is truly like the loss of a close family member,” Mr. Chasty said in a statement.

“We're shocked and saddened by this tragic event and by the death of an exceptional teacher,” added education director Jim Grieve, calling the shooting “unprecedented.”

“It's especially traumatic that such a disturbing incident of what seems to have been domestic violence should spill over into the lives of the students Mrs. Candir was so devoted to.”

Friends said Ms. Candir, who police say went by Ashley among her co-workers, was terrified of her husband and left their home in Bolton while he was vacationing in Turkey.

Const. Kathy Gagnon of Peel Regional Police said the woman moved to a residence in Vaughan, a nearby suburb.

“They've been here for a long time, I think over 30 years,” said Gagnon.

“They were married about 18 years.”

The brazen school-hour attack shook the community and has left investigators and experts asking why a marriage that had lasted that long would end so violently.

Those who have studied violence against women say such incidents between seemingly comfortable couples are not entirely uncommon, but they demonstrate a lack of mechanisms in place to detect domestic abuse.

“Clearly there aren't [enough mechanisms in place], or this kind of thing wouldn't happen,” said Cathleen Fillmore, an expert on violence.

Ms. Fillmore says the killing is all the more unusual in that it involved a financially stable couple — Mr. Candir was a licensed pilot who worked as a flight simulator instructor at Air Canada, according to a friend of the victim.

“It's not quite as common,” Ms. Fillmore said. “People who have more resources can be in very controlling relationships...but they're usually not in the same level of violence you'll find at the lower socio-economic level.”

Ms. Fillmore says women in the greatest danger when they leave abusive relationships.

“That's when they're most at risk because the guy is so threatened,” she said. “The last thing they want is the wife to leave, because the wife has become the receptacle for all their anger and insecurity. The wife has become the essential prop that keeps them going.”

Bramalea Secondary will be open as usual Monday, but counsellors will be on site to help students and staff cope in the aftermath of the tragedy.