Father of suspect in 3 B.C. deaths says son intends to die in police gunfire
The father of one of the two suspects in the deaths of three people in northern British Columbia believes his son is dealing with serious mental anguish and intends to die in a police confrontation.
In an emotional interview with The Canadian Press from Mill Bay, B.C, Alan Schmegelsky, the father of 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, said his son is an introverted but otherwise normal teenager who doesn’t own any guns and doesn’t know how to drive.
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“A normal child doesn’t travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does,” he said.
Alan said he is convinced that his son is on a “suicide mission” and intent on going out in a “blaze of glory” when police officers finally catch up with him.
“He’s going to be dead today or tomorrow,” he said. “Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I’m so sorry all this had to happen. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t rescue you.”
Alan Schmegelsky said his son did not have a good upbringing and struggled after his parents separated when he was five years old. He added that Bryer turned to YouTube and video games as a teenager, particularly strategy battle games.
Lisa Lucas said her son Rylan was friends with Schmegelsky as a pre-teen. They would play video games together until one day Rylan saw that Schmegelsky had posted a picture of a swastika on social media.
“If he is guilty, just the thought of having that kid in my house, it shocks me,” Lucas said.
Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod are wanted in connection to the fatal shooting of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese on the side of a remote portion of the Alaska Highway, approximately 20 kilometres south of the popular tourist destination Liard Hot Springs.
They are also wanted in connection to the death of an unidentified man who was found near a burned-out truck belonging to the suspects near Dease Lake in B.C.
RCMP on Wednesday identified the man as Leonard Dyck of Vancouver.
"We are truly heart broken by the sudden and tragic loss of Len,” the family wrote in a statement. “He was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened.”
No further details were provided as Dyck’s family has asked for privacy.
In connection to Dyck’s death, RCMP in British Columbia have issued second-degree murder charges against McLeod and Schmegelsky. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for their arrest.
Both men are described as 6’4” tall and approximately 169 pounds. McLeod has dark brown hair, facial hair, and brown eyes, while Schmegelsky has sandy brown hair.
Keith McLeod, Kam’s father, said in a statement to CTV News Vancouver that his son is a “kind, considerate, caring young man” who has always “been concerned about other people’s feelings.”
“As we are trapped in our homes due to media people, we try to wrap our heads around what is happening and hope that Kam will come home to us safely so we can all get to the bottom of this story,” he said.
McLeod and Schmegelsky, who are both from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, were initially listed as missing persons and were thought to be travelling to the Yukon to find work, police said. RCMP named the two men suspects on Tuesday following tips they received from the public.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son told him that he and McLeod were heading to Alberta to look for a job, as they were unsatisfied with their current job at a Walmart store in Port Alberni.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn two days later… that they were up in the Yukon,” he said.
Alan said his son bought an expensive suit with his second paycheque at Walmart.
"Now I realize it's his funeral suit," he said.
On Wednesday, RCMP confirmed a Toyota Rav 4 that was found burned-out near Fox Lake Cree Nation in northern Manitoba earlier this week was the same SUV police believed the suspects were using to travel across the prairies.
The Fox Lake Cree Nation is located approximately 55 kilometres northeast of Gillam, Man. RCMP have increased the police presence in Gillam and have begun an “informational check-stop” along the only road in and out of the town.
“We’re doing everything that we can and trying to get as much information as possible,” RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchene told reporters on Wednesday. “If we have a confirmed sighting, we will let everyone know as soon as possible.”
GILLAM RESIDENTS ‘HIGHLY CONCERNED’
Dwayne Forman, Gillam’s mayor, said on Wednesday that some people in the community are “highly concerned” and that “uncertainty” is on everyone’s minds.
The town’s deputy mayor, John McDonald, said residents are ensuring their homes and vehicles are locked as a precaution. He told The Canadian Press that community members are taking a closer look at strangers’ faces in light of the news the suspects could be near Gillam.
Billy Beardy, who first spotted the burning vehicle, said he went to pick strawberries with his wife on Monday evening when they noticed a plume of black smoke in the distance.
“We decided to take a ride there,” he told CTV News Winnipeg. “That’s when we saw the vehicle in the bush.”
Beardy could tell the vehicle didn’t belong to someone in the area because there are so few SUVs in the community. He could also see a variety of camping equipment inside.
‘DO NOT APPROACH’
The RCMP has warned the public not to approach the suspects if they’re spotted.
“Consider them dangerous. Do not approach. Take no action and call immediately 911,” RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet urged.
With the suspects appearing to be heading east, Ontario Provincial Police has also issued a public safety warning in relation to Schmegelsky and McLeod.
In a public release on Wednesday, OPP said the last confirmed sighting of two was in Meadow Lake, Sask. However, they also noted that police have “reason to believe” the pair were recently in the area of Gillam, Man.
“It would appear the suspects are heading in an easterly direction,” the safety warning read.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale echoed that warning during a scrum with reporters in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
“Be alert, be vigilant about your surroundings. If you see a situation that at all raises questions in your mind or causes concern, do not intervene in any way personally,” he said.
Goodale also took a moment to reassure the public that Canada is a safe country to live in and visit.
“When violent incidents occur, we take it very, very seriously and we take all the necessary steps with the police and otherwise to make sure people can have confidence about their safety,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press