A tragedy in this small Niagara town at the west end of the region transformed an otherwise serene evening in June of 2002 into a day forever etched in the memories of local residents. After a brief yet tumultuous relationship had ended in May, Shannon Cruse returned to Grimsby to be close to her family after living briefly with her boyfriend, Peter Kiss, in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. Cruse had ended the relationship amidst revelations to friends that she was afraid of her now ex-boyfriend and to alert authorities if they ever saw her ex in the Niagara area.
On Friday June 14, 2002 Kiss travelled from Wisconsin and crossed the Canadian border in possession of an undetected firearm. His premeditated intentions became clear as he swapped his own vehicle for a rental before arriving in Grimsby.
Winston Road, western outskirts of town, bordering Stoney Creek, is within walking distance to Lake Ontario. It was dusk when Kiss travelled down this desolate road. When the reverberating sounds of gunshots permeated the air, a number of frantic 911 calls were made, prompting a tiered emergency response to the area. Shannon Cruse was located first, sprawled across the front driveway of her home, suffering from two gunshot wounds. She was transported to hospital but succumbed to the injuries inflicted by her murderous ex-boyfriend.
Investigators frantically rushed to the home of Shannon’s parents in close proximity to the first crime scene. When investigators arrived at the second Cruse home they discovered the front door had been forced open. This led police to the master bedroom of the Cruse family home where three other victims were located. Shannon’s parents, Mary and Donald Cruse had also been fatally shot by Kiss. Sadly, Shannon’s six-year-old daughter Shaniya had also been victimized. The killer was never brought to justice for this cowardly and senseless act. His lifeless body was discovered in the home, the fatal shot having been administered by his own hand.
The carnage confronting emergency personnel upon their arrival that day inflicted a post-traumatic residue that lingered beyond the echoing of gunshots and the blood-stained asphalt. Some of the neighbouring residents from this tight knit community also sought post-event grief counselling after this horrific event. The tragedy sparked an ongoing issue pertaining to domestic violence and abuse, not to mention concerns about border security and the smuggling of firearms in and out of the country.
It’s been 10 years since the innocent lives of four people were taken. Long gone are the photographers and the crime scene tape draped across Winston Road, but the memories of the murdered victims never to be forgotten.
Story by: Stephen G. Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)