Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang was attempting to save a homeless man’s life on the morning of Oct. 18 when she was fatally stabbed, according to a police report obtained by Global News investigative journalist Sam Cooper.
The report, which details the interaction between the young Mountie and the suspect accused of killing her, states Yang had accompanied a City of Burnaby parks officer as he prepared to serve an eviction notice on a man who had been occupying a tent in a local park for several months.
Yang, a member of the Burnaby RCMP mental health and homeless outreach team, approached the tent and called out, but received no response.
She then observed a man inside with his eyes closed.
“Constable Yang saw that the man was unresponsive in the tent,” Cooper said in an interview Saturday. “According to this report, she believed he could be going into overdose or (had) already overdosed.”
The report states Yang announced she was going in to administer naloxone when the man responded, exited the tent and threatened the parks officer.
Both the parks officer and Yang then backed away and used their phones and radios to call for assistance.
“According to the report, the man got angry, charged … and then stabbed Const. Yang in the chest area,” said Cooper.
“A struggle ensued, the two officers tried to restrain the man and then the report (states) that the parks officer could not see and heard two shots.”
B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, confirms Yang shot the suspect with her service weapon, but it’s unclear how many shots were fired.
The man, according to the report, said he’d been shot and asked to be let go. A second parks officer arrived and began to help, followed by a passer-by who stopped his vehicle to assist. Yang lost consciousness, according to the report, and despite a desperate effort to revive her, she died.
The suspect, 37-year-old Jongwon Ham, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds and charged with first-degree murder.
“This is new information that indicates that Const. Yang was trying to save a life and then the tragedy ensues,” said Cooper.
Ham was once an accomplished actor and Emmy award-winning filmmaker with roots in Toronto.
Global News spoke with a close friend of Ham’s who said he was devastated to learn about the murder allegations. The friend said Ham was falsely accused of a sexual assault in Toronto nearly 10 years ago, and that the strain of the investigation sent him to a dark place. Ham had been in and out of jail in Vancouver over the last few years.
In February 2021, he was arrested and charged with assault and resisting an officer, after Vancouver police said a suspect made racial slurs at a person and kicked them in the face in Chinatown.
In March, Ham was arrested and again charged with assault after he allegedly made anti-Muslim comments and attacked a security guard at the Harbour Centre food court.
Ham remains in custody and is due to appear in Vancouver Provincial Court Nov. 2 on the murder charge.
— with files from Simon Little and Rumina Daya