Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Drug dealer lured to Humpback Road and shot, murder trial hears

Alex William Knatchbell, 26, was shot in the arm, neck and torso and died from multiple gunshot wounds, while slumped in his Nissan Pathfinder
Police block the 3100-block Humpback Road in the wake of the killing in January of 2020. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Late on Jan. 20, 2020, a West Shore man lured a known drug dealer to Humpback Road and shot him 12 times with a Ruger rifle, a B.C. Supreme Court trial heard Monday.

Alex William Knatchbell, 26, was shot in the arm, neck and torso and died from the multiple gunshot wounds while slumped forward in his Nissan Pathfinder, Crown prosecutor Clare Jennings told the court in her opening remarks at Damien Medwedrich’s trial for first-degree murder.

Knatchbell’s Pathfinder crashed into a tree, blocking the road. Its airbags were deployed and flashers were going when a car came around a corner. A passenger in the car called out, but saw and heard nothing and called 911, said Jennings.

The routine call about a car crash took a darker turn when first responders arrived around 11:35 p.m. and discovered Knatchbell’s body.

Paramedics noticed broken glass on the road and drew it to the attention of police, who discovered eight to 10 .22-calibre bullet shell casings on the road, said Jennings.

Admissions of fact involving cellphone records and surveillance video footage that placed Medwedrich’s blue Saturn car in the area were read into the court record.

“I expect there will be little dispute that Damian ­Medwedrich was present at the time of the shooting,” J­ennings told Justice Veronica Jackson. “The issue for this court to determine is whether Damian Medwedrich shot and killed Alex Knatchbell and if so, whether that killing was planned and deliberate.”

Five Crown witnesses are expected to testify at the judge-alone trial.

The first witness, who cannot be identified and is in the witness protection program, took the stand Monday, testifying from behind a screen.

He told the court that in January 2020, he bought and used drugs from Knatchbell, whom he knew as “Pete.”

On the night of Jan. 20, the witness testified, Medwedrich asked the witness for help buying drugs, then came by his mother’s house and picked him up.

The witness testified that he didn’t expect to be out for long and came out of the house in a dressing gown, shorts and a T-shirt.

Medwedrich took the man’s phone and arranged to pick up drugs from Knatchbell, he said. They drove to Humpback Road and parked on the side of the road. Medwedrich got out of the car.

“And I heard shots,” the witness testified.

The unidentified man could not say how long they were at Humpback Road. His testimony is expected to continue today.

In her opening statement, ­Jennings told the court the witness is expected to testify that after he heard the shots, ­Medwedrich drove away very fast and the witness made a video of Medwedrich talking on the phone about what he had done.

The admissions also revealed that Medwedrich was arrested 10 days later in Prince George with the murder weapon.

On the early morning of Jan. 30, security at the Pine Centre Mall called police to tell them that a blue Saturn had crashed through a barrier and got stuck in a snowbank.

Around 1:15 a.m. Medwedrich walked out of the parking lot carrying a Ruger rifle with a scope attached and a banana clip magazine under a blanket

When Medwedrich saw police, he turned and began walking away. Police stopped and asked what he was doing. Medwedrich said he was out for a walk carrying a blanket. Police told him to stop, but he broke into a run, fleeing up and over a snowbank, the admissions say.

Medwedrich slipped and fell and dropped the rifle and ­ammunition, but got up and kept running, leaving the weapon behind. He was eventually tracked by a police dog near a golf course.

The rifle is the one used to shoot Knatchbell, the admissions of fact say.

[email protected]