British Columbia·Exclusive

Gabriel Klein's friends say accused killer changed, became paranoid

Nathaniel Spidell was shocked when he saw his missing friend in a violent video as he scrolled through a news feed on his phone.

'Everything went downhill after that. He wasn't the same person'

Nathaniel Spidell, left, and Jordan Reid, right. say they were friends with Gabriel Klein before he was accused of killing a student in Abbotsford, B.C. (Kamil Karamali/CBC)

Nathaniel Spidell was shocked when he saw his missing friend in a violent video as he scrolled through a news feed on his phone.

"He was like a good guy. He believed in God," said Spidell, 23.

"He'd go out of his way for people. He'd go the extra mile. This pretty much shocked me."

Spidell's friend — Gabriel Klein — has been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Letisha Reimer.

Reimer,13, and another 14-year-old were attacked at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Nov. 1.

Klein's friends say they do not recognize the man in the video. It is not the friend they knew.

Jordan Reid, 23, said he worked with Klein for three weeks at Directions Youth Services, a downtown Vancouver service group for young people.

Friend not a monster

"I could just never imagine him being a violent person," said Reid, who was horrified by the graphic video posted online that shows six seconds of the fatal attack.

Spidell and Reid, who both live in Vancouver, said they are speaking out because they want the public to know that their friend had good qualities.

At the same time, both men said they felt terrible for the loss suffered by the family and friends of Reimer.

Spidell said he knew little about Klein's early life; he only knew him for three months.

He and Klein met at Covenant House, a shelter and outreach centre for young people. They both lived there for a period of time.

Reid said he was shocked to see Klein had been charged.

"People are labelling him as some monster now and that's just not the person I knew," said Reid.

Nathaniel Spidell says he will stand by his friend who was never violent or into weapons when they hung out. (Nathaniel Spidell/Instagram)

"If I could ask him one thing it would be 'why?' It's just crazy. It's just not the person I knew. Even the day before the stabbing, at work, he was still smiling.

"I'm thinking maybe something that day happened. Maybe something just clicked in his head," Reid said.

Spidell said Klein was living in Vancouver trying to get his life together. He avoided trouble. He followed the rules at Covenant House.

Then something happened and he changed.

He became manic, paranoid and frightened, Spidell said.

Spidell also doesn't know much about Klein's life before Vancouver, but he bonded with him because they both hailed from the Edmonton-area. They hung out daily, he said.

Klein smoked a lot of pot, Spidell said.

Turning point

A few weeks ago, Klein told Spidell he believed he'd smoked pot that had been tampered with acid, and began acting very strange, talking about leaving Canada, and trusting no one.

"Everything went downhill after that. He wasn't the same person," said Spidell, who considers Klein his best friend.

"He never carried weapons at all. He was just a stoner. He loved his mom," said Spidell.

Klein was finishing school. He had goals. He wanted to be "successful in life" and often talked about his mother.

Spidell became concerned when his friend's texts stopped. He was scrolling through a news feed last week when he saw him.

"I was shocked. He was a pretty nice guy. You wouldn't expect this. It's out of his character," Spidell said.

No matter what has happened he plans to stand by his friend.

Spidell said if Klein did kill anybody, he was not in his right mind and he continues to "believe in him."

'I could just never imagine him being a violent person,' said Jordan Reid, 23 (right) standing with Nathaniel Spidell (left). (Kamil Karamali/CBC)

With files from Kamil Karamali