Cornerstones of victim's life were faith, family
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2007 8:11AM EDT
An innocent bystander killed during a gruesome multiple murder was known by a love for his family, a commitment to his faith and his church, and a deep attachment to the outdoors.
Ed Schellenberg, 55, was in a Surrey, B.C. apartment on Friday doing scheduled maintenance on a gas fireplace when he was killed along with five others in a killing spree that police say is linked to guns, gangs and drugs.
Chris Mohan, another innocent bystander who lived in the building where the murders took place, was also killed though he had no connection to the others.
The four remaining victims were involved in crime, police say.
Schellenberg's brother-in-law, Neil Wieler, disagrees with a police statement that Schellenberg was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"We've heard that statement and we disagree with it to a harsh degree," he told CTV's Canada AM.
"Ed was supposed to be there. That was his job. He was contracted to look after the fireplaces in that building and it was the turn of that particular place to be looked after. The other folks were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ed was where he was supposed to be."
Wieler said Schellenberg, a resident of Abbotsford, was well respected by everyone who knew him.
"The four cornerstones of Ed's life were his family, his faith, his love of the outdoors and his job, his work. He was a good man. People say that when folks leave the earth, but in his case it's absolutely true."
He said Schellenberg was also known by a love of the outdoors that stemmed from 10 years in the Northwest Territories where he worked as a hunting and fishing guide.
"When he wasn't working he was looking for a way to escape the Lower Mainland and head into the wilderness."
Police have released few details about how the six men were killed in the Balmoral Tower apartment.
Police said the other four victims, all residents of Surrey, were involved in criminal activity -- but although they may have been targeted by gang members, they were not part of a gang themselves.
They were identified by RCMP assistant commissioner Peter German as:
- Edward Narong, 22
- Corey Lal, 21
- Michael Lal, 26
- Ryan Bartolomeo, 19
Michael and Cory Lal were brothers, and like Narong and Barolomeo they had faced numerous criminal charges.
Dozens of those charges were stayed, but Michael Lal and Bartolomeo were convicted of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
Six teams of investigators comprising some 48 detectives are working on the case.
Michael Chettleburgh, the author of "Young Thugs," a book about gang violence in Canada, told Canada AM he suspects the murders were related to drug trafficking.
"I've seen this happen before," he said. "You have a street gang that is responsible for selling drugs at the retail level, and often when we see this kind of violence it's because of a drug deal gone bad. Could have been a gang that has cut into someone else's drug market and violence is the only way to protect your turf."
He said the entire Lower Mainland is becoming known for its illegal drug industry. Vancouver and Surrey, in particular, are at the "nexus" of an international drug trade that has gangs smuggling B.C.-grown marijuana, as well as methamphetamine and ecstacy to the U.S. in exchange for cocaine, heroin and guns.
"The currency of the gang business is money and drugs, but also violence, and this is designed to send a message that we are to be a force to be contended with," Chettleburgh said.