British Columbia

Family of Surrey mechanic killed in 'unprovoked' stabbing pleads for witnesses to help

The family of a man who died from stab wounds in the dark of a Surrey, B.C., parking lot asked their community for help in an emotional appeal Tuesday, calling on those who know anything about what happened to speak with homicide investigators.

Delphin Paul 'Pauly' Prestbakmo, 45, died Friday near Semiahmoo Shopping Centre

Paul Prestbakmo’s sister, Angela Prestbakmo, pleaded Tuesday for witnesses to her brother's killing to come forward and speak with homicide investigators. Paul Prestbakmo was found dying in a Surrey, B.C., parking lot on Aug. 16, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The family of a man who died from stab wounds in the dark of a Surrey, B.C., parking lot asked their community for help in an emotional appeal Tuesday, calling on those who know anything about what happened to speak with homicide investigators.

Delphin Paul Prestbakmo, known as Pauly, was a mechanic who grew up in the area where he died. 

A passerby found him lying in the parking lot at 152 Street, near Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, just after 3 a.m. on Friday. He was so severely injured, he died before RCMP made it to the scene — even with a detachment across the street.

RCMP said they believe the attack was "unprovoked." 

Angela Prestbakmo, Pauly's sister, struggled to finish a sentence without crying when speaking about her brother on Tuesday.

Watch her speak here:

Angela Prestbakmo, Delphin (Pauly) Prestbakmo's sister, described her brother and the impact his death has had on her family, at a news conference Tuesday, imploring witnesses to come forward. Pauly Prestbakmo died after being stabbed in Surrey, B.C., on Aug. 16, 2019. 1:05

"I'm having difficulty finding the words, if there are any, to express the heartache, emptiness, and devastating loss for our family," said Angela, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Our brother, Pauly, was the victim of a horrendous murder and we need your help."

Angela's plea to the public came as RCMP provided an update on its homicide investigation, which has so far resulted in one arrest but no charges, as well as news of a second assault not far from the parking lot where Pauly Prestbakmo died.

Delphin Paul Prestbakmo, known as Pauly, was found dying near Semiahmoo Shopping Centre in South Surrey on Aug. 16, 2019. Homicide investigators believe he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack. (IHIT)

'He never came back'

Homicide investigators believe Pauly, who was not known to police, left his house Friday night to take out the garbage and have a quick smoke. His house wasn't far from the parking lot, which is bordered by a Coast Capital Savings bank, a dollar store and a McDonald's.

"Tragically, he never came back," said Cpl. Frank Jang, addressing reporters after Angela Prestbakmo spoke.

Angela described Pauly, 45, as an exuberant, generous mechanic who "would give the shirt off his back to someone in need."

We will never again be able to hear his infectious rolling belly laugh, his contagious smile that would light up a room and his outrageous sense of humour and his love of life," Angela said.

Angela Prestbakmo speaks to reporters about her brother, Paul Prestbakmo, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

So ubiquitous was his reputation in South Surrey, Jang later said, it's believed the person who attacked him would have known who he was.

A man was arrested in Pauly's death outside a house two blocks away from the parking lot crime scene after a brief search. RCMP said the home isn't connected to the crime, but rather the location where the search ended.

Jang declined to provide further information on the arrest as no charges have been laid, but said IHIT is still gathering evidence.

The scene of the stabbing, near Semiahmoo Shopping Centre. The area was cordoned off for hours as homicide investigators searched for evidence. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

2nd assault

At the same news conference Tuesday, RCMP announced an investigation into a second assault that happened nearby, hours before Pauly was found.

Jang said a man in his 60s was found with "extensive" injuries Friday night. He was last seen at the Coast Capital Savings bank in the same parking lot where Pauly died at 11:55 p.m. PT.

White Rock RCMP and IHIT are determining whether the attacks are related "out of an abundance of caution," Jang said, given their proximity to each other in place and time. The officer would not say whether the man who survived had also been stabbed.

IHIT Cpl. Frank Jang speaks about the Paul Prestbakmo homicide case in Surrey on Tuesday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Witnesses are key to both investigations, Jang said.

Angela Prestbakmo called on the community that raised her brother to help him now, as his family prepares for his funeral.

"Our brother, Pauly, had a lot of different sayings. One, in particular, sticks out for our family here today that I would like to share. When things were not going so good or working out, he would say, 'hey, let's make it right. Do the right thing,'" Angela said.

"On behalf of my family and our friends, we speak for our brother Pauly one last time ... make it right. Do the right thing."