Murder suspect nabbed in Nanaimo after being stopped for cycling without helmet

A man wanted for murder in the Greater Toronto Area was arrested in Nanaimo after patrol officers stopped him for riding a bike without a helmet.

Nanaimo RMCP bike patrol officers were riding around Barsby Park off Prideaux Street on Friday afternoon when they spotted a man on a mountain bike without a helmet, said Nanaimo RCMP officer Const. Gary O’Brien. The bike he was riding was similar to one that was recently reported stolen.

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The man was arrested for possession of stolen property after officers checked the serial number to confirm the bike was stolen.

When asked to identify himself, the man gave several different names and produced what appeared to be a fake Ontario driver’s licence.

The man was taken to the Nanaimo RCMP detachment. Further investigation revealed he was 19-year-old Kyle Antonio Dias of Etobicoke, Ont., who is wanted for second-degree murder in connection with a Feb. 13 shooting in Etobicoke.

A 27-year-old Toronto man, Tesfa Welsh-Hope, died from multiple gunshot wounds. Welsh-Hope was Toronto’s eighth homicide victim of 2019, and the fifth who died in a shooting, according to the Toronto Star.

On Friday, Dias was taken to Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria.

“He was putting time and distance between himself and Toronto — he went as far west as possible,” O’Brien said. Police believe he was in Nanaimo for eight to nine days and was staying in shelters.

O’Brien praised the officers for pushing the envelope and doing further investigation when the man seemed suspicious.

“If they had just walked away and given him a ticket, they wouldn’t have known he was involved in a more serious incident,” he said.

Officers from the Toronto Police Service plan to travel to Nanaimo today to pick up Dias and return him to Ontario to face the murder charge.

Considering the more serious charges, Nanaimo Mounties did not pursue the bike-helmet infraction, O’Brien said. The bike was returned to its owner.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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