May 28, 2018 1:47 pm
Updated: May 28, 2018 10:56 pm

Spruce Grove man charged in fatal Thorsby gas-and-dash

WATCH ABOVE: Nearly eight months after the death of a Thorsby, Alta. business owner in a gas and dash, the RCMP have a suspect in custody. Sarah Kraus reports.

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Seven months after the owner of a Fas Gas in Thorsby was killed trying to stop someone from stealing fuel, a 27-year-old man from Spruce Grove has been charged in the death.

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski was arrested on May 25 at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

He has been charged with second-degree murder, failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing death, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and theft under $5,000.

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READ MORE: Gas station owner struck and killed during gas-and-dash in Thorsby

On Oct. 6, 2017, the 54-year-old owner of the gas station died after being struck by a vehicle.

Police said the driver of the suspect vehicle did not pay for their gas after fuelling up and as they drove away, the gas station owner tried to either stop the driver or gain their attention. Police said it was at that point the man was struck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

READ MORE: Local businesses rally behind family of killed Thorsby gas station owner: ‘This help is a blessing’

Family later identified the victim as Ki Yun Jo and pleaded with the driver to come forward to police.

RCMP found the suspect vehicle, a white Ford cube van, more than a week later. However, they did not locate the driver.

READ MORE: Family pleads for suspect in Thorsby gas-and-dash to come forward

RCMP Major Crimes unit took over the investigation and interviewed several witnesses.

“An investigation into a homicide remains active until it’s solved,” Sgt. Bryce Long said May 28. “Our team has worked hard on this investigation, and seeing these charges laid brings a great sense of closure not only to the Major Crimes Unit, but to the community at large and particularly the family of Ki Yun Jo.”

Jo’s son, Sung Hyun Jo, said his family received a call from the RCMP on Thursday night, notifying them charges had been laid.

“As soon as I heard it, I just started crying because I felt very emotional. It just kind of reminded me how my dad died and all my memories came back,” he said Monday.

Sung Hyun Jo said he feels a bit a relief knowing a suspect is behind bars, but it doesn’t bring back his father.

“I don’t feel happy,” he said Monday. “I just feel kind of relieved that… [a suspect has] been caught and we’re not in danger anymore. We don’t have to feel that anymore.”

READ MORE: Fuel corporation ‘dismayed’ by fatal Thorsby gas-and-dash

Sydlowski was previously arrested in late October 2017, during a separate investigation. RCMP said he was wanted by police on outstanding warrants in Devon and Stony Plain on charges including theft under $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, taking a motor vehicle without consent, and failing to comply with condition of undertaking or recognizance.

READ MORE: New RCMP unit focuses on property crime, repeat offenders in central Alberta

Court documents reveal Sydlowski has a lengthy criminal history dating back nine years, including being convicted of obstructing a peace officer, uttering threats, mischief, theft, and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

This year, court documents show, he’s been charged with breaching conditions, possession of stolen property and theft.

A bail hearing was held on May 26 and the case will be back in court on Tuesday in Wetaskiwin.

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