British Columbia

Surrey 6 murders: Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston found guilty

Gang members Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston have been found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder for the 2007 slayings of six people in a Surrey, B.C., highrise.

Red Scorpion gangsters convicted of gunning down 6 in B.C. highrise in 2007

Two men have been found guilty six counts of first-degree murder for the 2007 slayings of six people in a Surrey, B.C., highrise 3:14

Two members of a B.C. drug gang, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston, have been found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder for the 2007 underworld slayings of six people in a Surrey, B.C., highrise.

After B.C. Supreme Court Judge Catherine Wedge handed down the decision just after 11:30 a.m. PT in Vancouver, the courtroom full of media and members of the victims' families broke out in applause.

The pair were also found guilty of one charge each of conspiracy to murder rival gangster Corey Lal.

They face a mandatory life sentence of minimum 25 years with no parole.

Two of the victims — Christopher Mohan, 22, and Ed Schellenberg, 55 — were innocent bystanders. Police said the two happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The other four victims, Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, brothers Michael Lal, 26, and Cory Lal, 21, and Edward Narong, 22, were described by police as having criminal lifestyles.

Mother's reaction

Outside the courtroom Mohan's mother, Eileen, said she was relieved by the convictions.

"Today is a beautiful day. The courts of British Columbia today have told [everyone] that you can't walk to the doorsteps of innocent families and steal the precious lives of their children," she said.

Eileen Mohan talks to reporters outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver today. Her son, Christopher Mohan, was one of two innocent bystanders killed in the so-called Surrey Six slayings. He was 22. (CBC)

"I've been waiting for seven years for this day, and it has come, and I am relieved."

Mohan also complimented Judge Wedge for her handling of the trial.

"Today she made me a very happy mom.... I know my son is smiling down today."

But Mohan said she will now have to prepare herself for the upcoming trials of two other men accused in the murders who chose to be tried separately.

Head prosecutor Mark Levitz thanked the families for their support and patience during the seven years it took to get the conviction.

"I hope the verdict gives them some comfort and they feel some sense of justice," Levitz said.

Premier: lives destroyed by B.C. crime

At a Vancouver Board of Trade event Thursday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she felt the trial came to the right outcome. 

Clark also told reporters that when she heard news of the verdict, she immediately thought of the families of some of the victims.

"My first thought when I heard about the verdict was about Eileen Mohan, and how incredibly hard this must have been for her to attend court so many days, hear these gruesome details of how her son died.

"I hope that for her, and for all other victims of crime today, that this verdict gives them some sense of justice, that justice has been done," she said.

"Her son's life was destroyed. So have the lives of many others through crime in British Columbia, and you never get that back. But you can certainly get a sense of justice back when that system works, and I think it did in this case."

Last year, former Red Scorpions gang leader Michael Le pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

A coroner removes one of the bodies from the Surrey highrise following the October 2007 slaying of six men.

His sentence was subsequently reduced to three years and one month after credit for time served. He then went on to testify against his former gang mates.

The two other men still facing trials at a later date are Jamie Kyle Bacon and Sophon Sek.

The Crown said Bacon's trial is slated to begin May 4. Jury selection dates are scheduled in April.

No trial date has been set for Sek, who is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Surrey on Dec. 2.

6 victims found dead in highrise

During the trial, Crown prosecutors argued Johnston and Haevischer went to the apartment to kill Corey Lal because he failed to meet a deadline to repay a $100,000 drug debt,

The Crown said the pair also killed the other five people in the apartment so there would be no witnesses to Lal's slaying.

This apartment building in Surrey, B.C., was the scene of the multiple homicide on on Oct. 20, 2007. (Richard Lam/Canadian Press)

Firefighters who were first on the scene testified they initially thought they were responding to a deadly gas leak. They found the bodies of six men in a 15th-floor apartment suite in the 9800 block of East Whalley Ring Road.

A total of 19 shots were fired in the massacre, which took place around 2:40 p.m. PT on Oct. 19, 2007. The bodies were found in two groups of three inside the apartment.

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.

At the time, Metro Vancouver was in the grips of a violent gang war dominated by a deadly rivalry between the Red Scorpions and the UN gangs.