It was the morning of Oct. 19, 2007 when his friend and fellow drug dealer contacted him, wanting to borrow the security fob to his North Surrey apartment building.
D.Y., whose identity is protected by a publication ban, took the stand at the Surrey Six trial Tuesday. He lived in a suite in the Balmoral Tower where six men were murdered on Oct. 19, 2007.
Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston are currently on trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver for the murders.
D.Y., a drug dealer for the Red Scorpions gang at the time, testified he found his buddy C.K.’s request unusual. (C.K.’s name is also shielded by a publication ban).
“I remember him saying that he wanted the fob… the apartment key. He wanted to borrow it,” D.Y. told the court.
He said he went to the building’s parkade on Oct. 19, 2007 and gave his keys, including the fob required for entry from the building’s outside entrances, to a man named “Josh” who was in a grey SUV.
“Josh,” D.Y. later learned, was actually Johnston.
He said he handed his key set to Johnston through the vehicle’s window, and didn’t see anyone else in the SUV.
D.Y. said Johnston asked if his girlfriend was home, which she wasn’t.
“I think he said, ‘make sure your girlfriend is not home later’,” D.Y. testified, recalling he found Johnston’s comment strange.
Johnston left and D.Y. returned upstairs to his suite, where he realized he no longer had a key to get in as he’d given the entire set to Johnston. He went out with a friend to eat before returning a while later and playing video games.
When he went to the lobby later, he saw lots of police and an officer told him he might not be allowed to re-enter his apartment that night. He said he went to his mom’s and was talking to his girlfriend online when she told him to watch the news.
“I was very surprised and shocked,” D.Y. testified. “I was in shock that six people were murdered in the building.”
He testified that he thought briefly about the security fob he’d lent out.
The Crown’s theory is that Haevischer, Johnston and a third man who cannot be named due to a publication ban went to the Balmoral Tower targeting Corey Lal, a rival drug dealer, on orders from fellow Red Scorpions Jamie Bacon and Mike Le.
Le pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to murder Lal, while Bacon will be tried separately at a later date.
The Crown contends while Lal was the intended victim, the five others – his brother Michael Lal, Ryan Bartolomeo, Eddie Narong, Christopher Mohan and Ed Schellenberg – were killed to eliminate any witnesses.
The murders took place on the 15th floor, while D.Y. lived on a lower floor.
On Tuesday D.Y. testified he saw another man living in the Balmoral he guessed might be a drug dealer because he drove expensive vehicles. DY said the young man spoke to him once, asking if the building manager was harassing him. DY later learned from police the man was Corey Lal.
DY said after the murders, he returned to his suite at the Balmoral only once, to retrieve drugs, money and other belongings, and never went there again.
He continued operating a dial-a-dope operation in another location “as usual” until his arrest in February 2008, when he was accused of conspiracy to murder six people. He was shocked at the allegations, D.Y. told the court.
Under cross-examination, he admitted he didn’t tell police much initially. But when he saw how the murders affected the families, he decided to cooperate.
“What really hit me was watching the video – I believe it was Chris’s mother – crying and talking about her son,” D.Y. told the court.
He cut ties with the Red Scorpions, was relocated by police in 2008 and received financial compensation until June 2010.
In earlier testimony, he said he initially started dealing drugs, mostly crack cocaine and heroin, as a way to make money after he dropped out of school and his parents kicked him out. But he got progressively more involved, he said, and thought of the Red Scorpions as family. He hoped one day to be a full member like his friend C.K., and not just a “worker,” he said.
The trial continues.