Boy, 16, charged in shooting of German tourist

Alberta police have arrested a 16-year-old boy and charged him with attempted murder in the shooting of a German tourist earlier this month.

Police say shooting was a life-changing event for the 60-year-old victim

The Dodge Durango a German tourist was driving when he was shot in the head is taken from the scene. A 16-year-old male has been charged in connection with the incident. (Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia)

RCMP in Alberta have arrested a 16-year-old boy and charged him with attempted murder and possession of a prohibited weapon in the shooting of a German tourist west of Calgary earlier this month.

The 60-year-old victim, identified in court documents as Horst Stewin, was driving east on Highway 1A on Aug. 2 with his wife, son and son's girlfriend when he was shot in the head near the Morley rodeo grounds, about 55 kilometres west of Calgary.

The Dodge Durango he was driving veered off the roadway and crashed into a tree. The three other people in the vehicle suffered minor injuries and the injured man was flown to hospital in Calgary by STARS Air Ambulance.

The teen was taken into custody without incident on Aug. 24 on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, said RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters at a news conference on Tuesday.

The RCMP Serious Crimes Branch laid 14 charges against the teen, whose name cannot be released as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

"This investigation has been progressed by what I could call good old-fashioned police work," said Peters.

The charges against the teen include:

  • Attempted murder.
  • Uttering threats.
  • Criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
  • Assault with a weapon.
  • Aggravated assault.
  • Possession of stolen property under $5,000.

The teen also faces eight gun-related charges that include unauthorized possession of a firearm and careless use of a weapon. 

Court appearance

On Tuesday afternoon, the 16-year-old was brought into the Cochrane courtroom in a blue sweatsuit and sat on a bench looking at the floor as his mother sat in the gallery with tears in her eyes.

The two waved at each other as he was taken back into custody by sheriffs after the brief appearance.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner told provincial court Judge G.W. Paul he has not yet received disclosure from the assigned prosecutor and the matter was put over to next week.

"I don't want to give you the rhetoric that you get so often, but I really don't have facts. I have allegations and I have information, which means charges," said Hepner.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner is representing the accused teenager. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

"So I know what the allegations are, I don't have police reports, I don't have witness statements, I don't have a synopsis or a summary of what occurred. I interviewed the boy and I know a little bit about his background, but it's far too serious to jump into a bail hearing right now."

Hepner said his client is "very emotional" but he's not sure the boy realizes what he's facing.

"I don't think he understands the scope of what's going on. He's 16 years old, I just don't think he has a full comprehension of the court process and just how serious this is," said Hepner.

Bullet removed from head

Earlier on Tuesday, Peters said no further information will be released about a possible motive for the shooting. He did confirm that the suspect and Stewin were not known to each other.

RCMP have said previously that the victim was shot from the passenger side of a vehicle being driven on the same highway. Peters said on Tuesday that a vehicle believed to have been involved in the shooting has been seized along with a firearm. 

He said the suspect was not the sole occupant of the vehicle, but that there are no other suspects.

Doctors in Calgary were not able to safely remove the bullet from Stewin's head. After nearly two weeks in hospital, he was flown to Germany, where doctors have since successfully removed the bullet.

It will be brought back to Canada to see if it's a forensic match with the firearm recovered by RCMP.

"He has a very long road of recovery ahead of him," Peters said. "This has been a life-changing event for him."

Earlier arrest

Stewin's family expressed gratitude to the investigative team for their work in finding and charging a suspect, Peters said.

RCMP initially thought the shooting was a case of road rage, but later said they believe it may have been a case of mistaken identity.

Police detained a man in Cochrane, Alta., one day after the shooting and seized a black Chrysler Sebring from the same residence.

That man was released without charges.