NEWS

Surrey Six trial: building manager discovered bodies

10/01/2013 04:36 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
- Follow CBC reporter @BellePuri live at the courthouse

- Scroll down for story details

The trial of three men charged with the massacre of six men in a Surrey apartment in 2007, continues today in Vancouver, with testimony from the building manager who first discovered the bodies.

Matthew James Johnston and Cody Rae Haevischer are charged with six counts of first-degree murder and Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le is facing one charge of first-degree murder.

At the opening of the trial yesterday, Norman Carothers, the building manager at Balmoral Towers, described finding six people dead in one of the apartments in October 2007.

Carothers testified he was helping gas fitter Ed Schellenberg get into units on the 15th floor.

He told the court he and his wife became increasingly alarmed when they couldn't find Schellenberg and there was loud music coming out of unit 1505.

Choking back tears, he told the court he finally pushed the door of the unit open and saw six people dead on the floor. Initially he thought it was a gas leak, but then he saw the blood and called 911.

Members of Schellenberg's family stood in court straining to see photos of his work van as they were entered as exhibits. Outside the courthouse many broke down and wept.

Carothers resumed testifying Tuesday morning.

$100,000 drug debt allegedly fuelled shooting

Prosecutors have said they intend to prove that Johnston and Haevischer went to the apartment to kill Cory Lal because he failed to meet a deadline to repay a $100,000 drug debt.

The Crown said the accused men killed the other five people in the apartment so there would be no witnesses to the murder of Lal.

At the time of the shooting, Metro Vancouver was in the grips of a violent gang war dominated by a deadly rivalry between the  Red Scorpions, to which the three accused belonged, and their rivals in the UN gang.

Four of the victims, Ryan Bartolomeo,19, brothers Michael Lal, 26, and Corey Lal, 21, and Edward Narong, 22, were described by police as having criminal lifestyles.

The other two victims – Christopher Mohan, 22, and Ed Schellenberg, 55 – were described as bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Crown spokeswoman Samantha Hulme said the trial by judge alone is expected to take up to one year and hear from as many as 100 witnesses.

MORE:cbcNews