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Shooting death at burnt-out Edmonton apartment ruled 18th homicide of 2016

A man in his 30s was found dead after Edmonton fire crews were called to a four-storey walkup at 10625 122 St. just before 5 a.m. Tuesday. April 19, 2016.
A man in his 30s was found dead after Edmonton fire crews were called to a four-storey walkup at 10625 122 St. just before 5 a.m. Tuesday. April 19, 2016. Erin Chalmers, Global News

EDMONTON — A man found dead in a burnt-out central Edmonton apartment earlier this week died of a gunshot wound, according to police.

Blair William Schmidt, 30, was found dead after a fire in an apartment suite on 122 Street near 106 Avenue early Tuesday morning.

An autopsy confirmed he died of a gunshot wound. His death has been ruled Edmonton’s 18th homicide of 2016.

Upon discovery, police were unable to identify Schmidt’s body and reached out to the public for help. He was identified a day later.

Edmonton Fire Rescue arson investigators, along with Edmonton police arson, forensic and homicide investigators are involved in the investigation.

Watch below: One person found dead Tuesday following apartment fire in central Edmonton

One person found dead following fire in central Edmonton
One person found dead following fire in central Edmonton

Schmidt was known to police in British Columbia, where he was one of two men arrested last year in an extortion case involving a Vancouver Island family.

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In 2015, the family was allegedly forced to lodge a man in their home for a week and do what he demanded under the threat of violence.

Nanaimo RCMP Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong said in a news release that police began their investigation in July after a report of an alleged extortion.

Armstrong did not provide further details, saying only that the victims were forced to let the man stay in their home under duress and that another person was also allegedly involved.

Schmidt was convicted of one count of utter threats in the case.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

With files from The Canadian Press.