Police are investigating photos of Bryer Schmegelsky, one of the two suspects wanted in deaths of multiple people in B.C., wearing army attire and holding Nazi paraphernalia, the RCMP have confirmed.
Port Alberni natives Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and his longtime friend Kam McLeod, 19, are on the run from police after being charged by RCMP with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. They are also suspects in the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.
Global News has obtained the photos. One of the photos depicts Bryer Schmegelsky wearing army attire while holding a rifle and a second shows him in a gas mask. The third photo depicts a swastika arm band and a knife with the inscription “Blut und Ehre” on the blade, which means blood and honour in German.
Alan Schmegelsky, the father of Bryer Schmegelsky, said in an emotional interview that his son is in “serious pain” and expects that the nationwide manhunt will end with his death.
“A normal child doesn’t travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does,” Alan said in an interview Wednesday in Mill Bay, B.C., near his home in Victoria.
Alan added that his son had a troubled upbringing, struggling through his parents’ split in 2005. Bryer spent much of his time on video games and YouTube from that point on, according to his father.
A statement from the Dyck family says they are heartbroken by their loss.
“[Leonard] was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief, and we are struggling to understand what has happened,” the statement read.
Dyck was a seasonal lecturer with the University of British Columbia’s botany department, which also provided a statement expressing shock and sadness at his death.
The bodies of Fowler and Deese were found along the side of a highway in northeastern B.C. on July 15 — four days before Dyck’s body was discovered several hundred kilometres from where the couple was found.
Police initially treated the young men as missing but announced they were suspects after they were spotted in northern Saskatchewan. The manhunt stretched into northern Manitoba this week when a burned-out car in which the young men were travelling was found near the community of Gillam.
Dyck’s body was found on a highway pullout approximately two kilometres from a burned-out truck and camper that police say the young men had been driving. Police initially had trouble identifying Dyck and released a composite drawing.
Canada-wide warrants have now been issued for Bryer and McLeod.
The pair became suspects in the three deaths after they were seen in the northwestern Saskatchewan community of Meadow Lake on Sunday, two days after their truck was found. The RCMP identified Bryer and McLeod as “armed and extremely dangerous” on July 21 and released their photos to the public.
Alan said he doesn’t think his son will survive a confrontation with police.
“He’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end,” he said, breaking down in tears. “Basically, he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that. Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I’m so sorry all this had to happen.”
The suspect’s father continued: “He wants his hurt to end. They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do.”
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He also told reporters that he and Bryer’s mother separated when Bryer was five years old, at which point she moved back to the small Vancouver Island community of Port Alberni.
According to Alan, Bryer met McLeod in elementary school, and the two quickly became inseparable.
Alan described them as “everyday good kids” who didn’t get in trouble. However, Alan said his son had problems at home and moved back to Victoria at age 16 to live with him before moving back to Port Alberni to live with his grandmother shortly after.
“He hasn’t been nurtured. He doesn’t have a driver’s licence. He never learned to ride a bike. He craved love and affection,” Alan said. “His influences haven’t been good. His influences have been YouTube and video games.”
He added that his son doesn’t own any guns and doesn’t know how to drive. After graduating from a Port Alberni high school, he found work at the local Walmart but was disappointed with the job and had told his dad he was travelling to Alberta with McLeod to look for work.
In an interview with Global News, Madison Hempsted said she shared one Grade 7 class with Schmegelsky in Port Alberni when they were both 13 years old. While she only had limited contact with Bryer, Hempsted said the few interactions she did have with him were troubling.
“There were times he would tell me and my friends ways he wanted to kill us and then himself, which is scary,” she said. “One of my friends commented that Bryer said he wanted to kill his whole family.
“I never really thought anything of it until now because we all thought he was just making jokes,” she added.
A public notice has been issued in the town of Churchill, Man., one day after a burned-out vehicle police say suspects travelled in was found in the town of Gillam. Manitoba, Ontario and B.C. RCMP branches have also issued public notices warning that Schmegelsky and McLeod may be in Manitoba, and not to approach them if they are spotted.
Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said in a statement issued to residents that the town would remain in close contact with the local RCMP detachment.
“The RCMP is doing important and difficult work right now in the Gillam area,” he said. “We should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity directly to the RCMP.”
Churchill is approximately 271 kilometres north of Gillam, which equates to just over a four-hour drive. However, as there are no roads leading to Churchill, the only ways to enter or leave the city are to fly in from Thompson, Man., or take the train.
Extra officers have been brought in to search the region of Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation for the two young men. Police are currently patrolling about 70 kilometres northwest of Gillam, and police have set up a check-stop at an intersection near Gillam.
—With files from Maham Abedi, Sean Boynton, Hannah Jackson and the Canadian Press
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