Warning: the following story contains strong language and disturbing imagery.
An award-winning Vancouver Island writer is criticizing the RCMP for their previous handling of a man who shot and killed his neighbour before taking his own life in Needles, B.C. late last year.
Anne Cameron has written to the RCMP’s Chief Commissioner, complaining that the force was aware of the danger Roy Bugera posed to the public, but did nothing.
“I wrote … to tell him he and the force had no reason at all to feel proud of the way they had handled the many problems caused by Roy Bugera,” Cameron told Arrow Lakes News. “Had they been more pro-active, the man could have been hospitalized, medicated, and given the help he so obviously needed. Instead, no matter how egregious his behaviour, the RCMP seemed willing to tolerate it, and him.”
“It is a sad and tragic story, and it is a pity that Mr. Volansky had to die.”
The RCMP say they handled the matter properly, and that “there is no evidence to suggest that the events… could have been predicted or prevented”.
In December 2017, the 58-year-old Bugera shot and killed his neighbour Ron Volansky, an 83-year-old resident of Needles, then killed himself.
The motive for the killing is unknown.
Life in Tahsis
Bugera had moved to Needles, a small community 60 km south of Nakusp last summer. Locals said they did not know much about him.
But Cameron, who lives in Tahsis, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, says she had many encounters with the man. She told Arrow Lakes News Bugera and his wife lived in Tahsis for six years.
She says Bugera was a disruptive, combative man that many people in the tiny community feared.
“He just argued with everybody, he would have these incredible explosions and start yelling and screaming, and ranting and raving, and his face would swell up and go red,” she recalls. “His eyes would bug out of his head and a white froth would show on the corners of his mouth.”
He was a stocky man, squarely built and muscular, and physically intimidating, said Cameron.
“He’d curse and swear. It was scary, really scary.”
Not everyone in Tahsis got into fights with Bugera, says Cameron. He spent most of his days like others in the community do — setting prawn traps and fishing, working on his home. He often had a drink in hand, she added.
She said Bugera, to give him credit, “was a real bull for work” — was busy all the time, and had a thriving garden.
“He said he’d been “in construction” before he came to Tahsis,” Cameron told Arrow Lakes News. “And he seemed to know how to build things, seemed to know how to do “a good job” of whatever it was he was doing.”
But Bugera had built a tall fence around his manufactured home, and placed cameras on it, she says.
“He was paranoid, totally paranoid,” says Cameron.
In March 2014 a neighbour of Cameron’s had a peace bond taken out on Bugera.
“He was endless with her,” recalls Cameron. “He yelled at her, threw rocks at her truck. A lot of it was really childish, but it was infuriating, because it never stopped.”
It got more than childish, she says, when Bugera assaulted an 80-year-old resident, a Korean war vet. But she says RCMP never charged the man for the incident.
“The veteran had two cracked ribs, a bruised lung. and the police would not do a thing about it,” she says. “They put it all down to a neighbour dispute, but it was well beyond a neighbour dispute.”
Cameron says there were other incidents in which the police failed to deal with Bugera, frustrating residents of the small community.
“It is just sad, really sad, because if the police had … done something about it, that man could have been put in a hospital, and found a medication that could have calmed him down enough that he could have been a human person like the rest of us,” she says.
After six years in the coastal community, in 2017 Bugera and his wife bought property in Needles. Cameron recalls a major change in Roy Bugera then.
“The week before he left to move to Needles my pug managed to get out of her activity yard and take off,” she recalled. “Roy brought her back. He was carrying her, stroking her, talking soothingly to her, and when I told him “thank you” he said he didn’t want to interfere in any way but he hated the thought of her being on the road because some people drive like idiots…”
“For maybe ten minutes I got to see a very different side to Roy Bugera, he was obviously happy to be moving, told me about his place “by the lake”, said he planned to have a few chickens and raise his own eggs… for those few minutes he seemed a very nice person. I wished him all the best, he said if I ever got up to Needles to drop by, bring my sleeping bag and they’d find me a place to put it…then he walked off back to his place waving and smiling.”
It was the last Cameron saw of Bugera. Before year’s end, he was dead.
Complaint to RCMP
News that Bugera had killed someone, and then himself, caused little surprise in the community, says Cameron.
“No, there was a sense of relief that he went up there to do it rather than starting something, shooting people around here,” she says. “People were afraid of Roy Bugera.”
She says after the incident, people in Tahsis have tried to put it behind them. But Cameron, an award-winning novelist, poet and screenwriter, who has written dozens of books, and is the winner of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, could not let it go. That’s why she wrote to the RCMP.
“I wanted to tell them it’s their fault Mr. Volansky, that old man, is dead,” she says. “I mean, from the few reports on the internet, he was everyone’s grandpa and great-grandpa … ‘let’s build a golf course, let’s get together at my place for Sunday dinner’, and ‘I’m going to go play soccer with the kids’.
“And I know we’re not to get ourselves tied up in the black and the white, and we’re not supposed to make moral judgments and there’s all this wifty-wafty hippy shit we are supposed to live by … but some things are wrong.
“It is wrong that that old man is dead. It is wrong that Roy Bugera offed himself. It is wrong that the RCMP didn’t intervene.”
The RCMP responded to Cameron’s letter on Feb. 12. In a letter, Brenda Butterworth-Carr, the deputy commissioner and commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, told Cameron she can “appreciate the frustration experienced during what can only be described as an unpleasant and protracted neighbour dispute involving Mr. Bugera.
“I can assure you, however, the Nootka Sound RCMP worked diligently to resolve the ongoing neighbour dispute in Tahsis, and there is no evidence to suggest that the events that led up to Mr. Bugera’s passing in Needles could have been predicted or prevented.”
“They said it was a privacy issue,” says Cameron. “They just said, ‘pat the old lady on the head and hope she shuts up in a hurry’.”
But Cameron can’t leave it.
“I just want somebody to do something, and Mr. Volansky deserves better.”
Nakusp RCMP told Arrow Lakes News they could not say if they had interaction with Bugera before the shootings, citing privacy concerns. They also said the matter was considered closed, and they don’t plan to release any further information to the public.
Relatives of Bugera’s contacted by Arrow Lakes News declined to comment.