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The trial of three men accused of shooting six others in a Surrey high-rise apartment six years ago continued today with testimony from the young nephew of one of the innocent victims.
Zachary Brown was working with his uncle Ed Schellenberg servicing the gas fireplaces in the Balmoral Tower on the day of the shooting. It was his first week on the job.
Brown said they had worked together all morning, had lunch together in Schellenberg's van, then headed to the 15th floor to finish working on the last few suites.
Eileen Mohan's suite was on Brown's list. Brown testified to checking the fireplace and chatting with Chris Mohan — the other innocent victim in the shooting — about basketball before moving on.
He says was supposed to service apartment 1505, but his uncle told him he would do it, after Schellenberg was warned by the building manager about the suspicious activities of the people coming and going from the unit.
Brown headed to suite 1508 instead and while chatting to a young, male resident in that unit, Brown testified he heard noises, but didn't think anything of it.
"They were steady and heard together. One, two, three, four, five. All I heard was a banging noise. I couldn't be sure what was happening," Brown told the court.
Brown said he finished up his work and then went home.
Within hours the manager of the apartment building had discovered the six dead bodies, including Schellenberg's, in apartment 1505.
Trial began Monday
Three men accused of the killings, which took place in a Surrey highrise in 2007, all pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges at the opening of the trial on Monday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
'They were steady and heard together. One, two, three, four, five. All I heard was a banging noise. I couldn't be sure what was happening.' - Zachary Brown, nephew of victim Ed Schellenberg
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.
Two other men charged in the case, Jamie Kyle Bacon and Sophon Sek, will be tried separately at a later date.
Prosecutors say they intend to prove that Johnston and Haevischer went to the apartment to kill victim Corey Lal because he failed to meet a deadline to repay a $100,000 drug debt.
They say the accused killed the other five people in the apartment so there would be no witnesses to the murder of Lal.
Prosecutors said the six bodies were found in two groups of three inside the apartment. A total of 19 shots were fired in the massacre, which took place around 2:40 p.m. PT on Oct. 19, 2007.
The six all had their heads covered and shots were fired directly into the backs of the heads of three of the victims. One other was shot in the back, another in the head, and one in the face and neck.
The three accused were all members of the Red Scorpions gang, the Crown said.
But only two, Johnston and Haevischer, are charged with the first-degree murders of Schellenberg, 55, and Mohan, 22, — whom police have described as bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Four of the victims, Ryan Bartolomeo,19, brothers Michael Lal, 26, and Cory Lal, 21, and Edward Narong, 22, were described by police as having criminal lifestyles.