Execution-style killings alleged during start of Surrey Six trial

Dispute over drug turf prompted gang hit, Crown contends as trial of three accused begins in B.C. Supreme Court.

Five of six men executed in a Surrey apartment building in 2007 were killed to ensure there were no witnesses to the murder of a sixth man – and intended target – alleged lead Crown prosecutor Mark Levitz on the opening day of trial for three men charged in the Surrey Six murders.

The trial of Cody Rae Haevischer, Matthew Johnston, and Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le began Monday before a packed courtroom in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

They are charged in connection with the Oct. 19, 2007 mass murder of six men in the Balmoral Tower apartment building in North Surrey.

Two of the dead – 22-year-old Christopher Mohan of Surrey and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg of Abbotsford – were innocent victims, while the four others, Ryan Bartolomeo, Edward Narong, and brothers Corey and Michael Lal, were gang members with ties to the drug trade who were known to police.

Schellenberg, 55, was repairing gas fire places in the building on the day of the murders, and Mohan lived in a neighbouring apartment.

Haevischer and Johnston both face six first-degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of all six victims, while Le has one first-degree murder charge related to Corey Lal’s death. All three face one conspiracy to kill charge for Lal’s murder.

The three accused pleaded not guilty to all of the charges on Monday.

In his opening statement, Levitz said Johnston, Le, and Haevischer were all part of the Red Scorpions gang whose primary objective was to traffic drugs and gain control over the Lower Mainland’s drug trade.

Corey Lal was a rival drug trafficker who was operating on their turf, said Levitz.

He said the Balmoral Tower apartment was Lal’s “stash house” where drugs were cooked and large amounts of cash were kept.

Jamie Bacon, also a Red Scorpion who is being tried separately in the case, demanded money from Lal, alleges Levitz. When Lal didn’t deliver, the court was told Bacon and Le ordered Johnston, Haevischer, and another man (who cannot be identified under a publication ban), to murder Corey Lal.

Levitz said the accused murderers gained entrance to the building through the parkade, using a fob given to Johnston by another gang associate who also lived in the building.

Levitz said the evidence would show that the six deceased were found lying in the living room of apartment 1505. They were divided into two groups of three – one with Corey Lal, Narong and Schellenberg, and one with Michal Lal, Bartolomeo and Mohan.

All were found side-by-side, face-down, Levitz said, except Michael Lal, and all suffered two or more gunshots to the head.

Eileen MohanLevitz contended two handguns – a Glock and an Ultrastar – were used in the six murders and there were a total of 19 shots fired. He also argued the victims were forcibly confined and had their heads covered when they were killed and that the evidence will show there was “obvious planning and deliberation” before the shots were fired.

Outside court, Eileen Mohan (left), mother of innocent victim Chris Mohan, said being in court and hearing new details of her son’s murder is extremely difficult.

“I wish I wasn’t here and Christopher was here with me, but I have to see this through,” she said,

In court, the three accused sat side-by-side in separate Plexiglass prisoner boxes. All were well-dressed and listened carefully to the court proceedings. Le took notes.

Mohan sat on the opposite side of the courtroom gallery from the three accused men.

“I don’t think they warranted my presence,” she said. “Honestly, I felt they were non-existent.”

Members of Schellenberg’s family were present in court Monday, but did not speak to the media.

The trial, being heard by Madam Justice Catherine Wedge, is expected to take as long as one year, and involves between eight and nine Crown prosecutors and approximately nine defence lawyers.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Police’s role in Barnston Island still needs ‘to be looked at’

Surrey RCMP polices unincorporated island a short ferry ride across Parson’s Channel

Surrey looking into reducing residential speed limits

Surrey city council on Feb. 24 approved five ‘key pillars’ of a Surrey Transportation Plan

‘We have to triage’: Surrey teachers stage ‘walk-in’ to support public education

Teachers raising awareness after more than one year at the bargaining table

Suspected drugs, counterfeit cash seized during distracted driving stop: Surrey RCMP

Police said incident happened near 152nd Street and Fraser Highway

Fate of five-district policing model in Surrey rests with new police board

Whalley/City Centre, Guildford/Fleetwood, Newton, Cloverdale, and South Surrey districts formed under McCallum’s watch in 1998

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Most Read