Toronto

Man charged in snowplow death stayed at shelter

The man accused of driving the stolen snowplow truck that struck and killed Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell stayed at a homeless shelter the night before the incident.

The man accused of driving the stolen snowplow truck that struck and killed Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell stayed at a homeless shelter the night before the incident, a spokesperson for the facility confirmed.

Adrienne Urquhart, spokesperson for the Good Shepherd Refuge on Queen Street East, said Richard Esber Kachkar checked in with the rest of the homeless men at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon.

Urquhart said it was Kachkar's first time at the Good Shepherd and he didn't stand out from the other homeless men.

Urquhart told CBC News that Kachkar was wearing shoes. It had been reported that Kachkar was barefoot when he allegedly stole a truck equipped with a snowplow early Wednesday morning. 

"He would obviously have come with shoes," Urquhart said. "Everything that evening, and during the wee hours of the morning, everything was quiet here. We actually didn't have any altercations or arguments between anyone staying here."

The Good Shepherd does not prevent residents from leaving after they've checked in. 

Some of the men who live on the streets of Toronto say they don't know Kachkar.

Outside the Good Shepherd on Thursday, a man who goes by the name Wolf was asked if he had ever seen Kachkar before. 

"I have been here for a couple of years, and no," he said.

CBC News has learned that Kachkar, 44, was born in Edmonton but moved to the Niagara region, where he went to high school.

He graduated from Centennial High School in Welland, Ont., in 1984.

His cousins in Alberta say they lost touch with him about 10 years ago.

Kachkar is the father of two teenage children — a boy and a girl — but is separated from his wife.

He was spotted in St. Catharines, Ont., a couple of days ago, where he owns a building on Geneva Street. 

Exactly how Kachkar came to be at the Good Shepherd Refuge remains unknown. 

It's alleged he left the shelter, shoeless, sometime in the night and then stole the truck near the corner of Parliament Street and Dundas Street East while the operator was shovelling snow nearby. 

Police allege he then went on a rampage that included driving the plow into Russell.

People at the shelter say they are devastated by the death of the officer and the serious injuries to Kachkar.

Kachkar has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

He was shot during his arrest and remains in the critical care unit at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital.

The province's Special Investigations Unit is investigating.

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