Sheloah Klausen and her 10-year-old daughter were perusing the book fair at their North Vancouver library Saturday afternoon when they saw a man run towards a woman and begin stabbing her.
The 50-year-old high-school gym teacher yelled at her child to go and hide before confronting the knife-wielding man half her age.
“She grabbed her umbrella and went up to the attacker and just started beating him. He turned around and slashed her and stabbed her in the back of her skull,” her sister, Leah Carol Michayluk, told The Globe and Mail on Monday, hours after she had spoken with Ms. Klausen, a former varsity rugby player and wrestler who is now at home recuperating from a head wound.
A woman in her 20s was killed and five others – four women and one man ranging in age from 22 to 78 years old – were injured in the attack that has rattled the quiet mountainous suburb. As police investigate what motivated the 28-year-old suspect, community leaders are heralding intervenors like Ms. Klausen for preventing the incident from escalating further and the local residents and first responders who jumped into action to tend to the victims.
“Nobody is prepared for this situation, but she definitely has a lot of fight in her, that’s for sure,” North Vancouver District Mayor Mike Little said of Ms. Klausen, who once taught his daughter.
At a news conference at the Lynn Valley Library on Monday afternoon, the head of Metro Vancouver’s regional homicide unit said police still don’t know what motivated suspect Yannick Bandaogo or why he came across the country to B.C. from his home province of Quebec. Inspector Michelle Tansey, acting officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said Mr. Bandaogo, who is in jail and charged with second-degree murder, appears to have no home address and no “ties to the North Vancouver community.”
Standing in front of dozens of wreaths laid on the sidewalk by the library, Insp. Tansey said police are reviewing hours of video from the shopping complex that houses the library to try to piece together the events of last Saturday. She would not divulge when the suspect arrived in the province, but said he had outstanding warrants for alleged offences in Winnipeg and Quebec.
According to Quebec court records, a Yannick Bandaogo who was listed at the time as living in Gatineau, Que., and with the same birth date as the suspect, failed to appear in court on two occasions last year, resulting in warrants being issued for his arrest. The scheduled court appearances in July and September, 2020, were in relation to alleged breaches of conditions imposed following previous infractions. In September, 2019, Mr. Bandaogo had pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon causing bodily harm.
A year earlier, he was sentenced in October, 2018, to one month in jail for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest in Longueuil, Que., a suburb of Montreal. On the same day, he was also sentenced to four months for assault causing bodily harm and three months in connection with two other assault cases.
Sandra Babou says the young man that attended the Longeuil boxing gym she used to help manage was introverted and intelligent.
“He had a tough shell and it could be hard to break through it and get him to open up,” Ms. Babou told The Globe on Monday.
She was impressed with the discipline he showed when he first started coming to the gym in 2014, sometimes for three workouts in a single day, and the two struck up a friendship. That dedication to the sport was masking a turbulent family life – at 21, he was thrown out of the family home by his father, Ms. Babou said.
“He didn’t know what to do with his life,” she said.
Ms. Babou left the gym at the end of 2017, but kept in touch with Mr. Bandaogo, speaking once or twice a year, usually at Christmas and on his birthday. The last time they spoke, in 2018, he had just gotten out after serving a few days in jail. As she understood it, the arrests were for petty theft, nothing serious, Ms. Babou said.
At the time, he was still in Longueuil. She said she has no idea when or how he arrived in B.C.
Though six of the seven victims were women, police say their evidence does not suggest the suspect was targeting women in particular.
The library was crowded with both children and adults the day of the attack. Now, authorities are offering free counselling at a nearby pop-up centre over the next week so that anyone in the community can process the trauma they experienced.
Jacquie McCarnan, who runs a Facebook group with more than 3,500 local users, has organized a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for victims of the attack.
“Lots of free counselling and lots of services have been offered,” she said. “Tons and tons of support has been pouring in for all of the victims.”
Ms. McCarnan said she was shocked by the incident, having never seen anything other than minor theft in her community.
“People here, we don’t tend to speculate over what the motivation for this crime was,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of rumour being thrown around – mostly what we’re seeing is words of encouragement and help for the victims.”
With research from Stephanie Chambers and a report from The Canadian Press
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