Family says murder victim not gang member
A gang dispute was at the centre of Tuesday afternoon’s murder in a downtown Kamloops schoolyard, according to police.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the victim was a member of a gang.
At a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said 23-year-old Archie LePretre and his cousin were attacked by three men at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday while playing basketball outside Stuart Wood elementary.
Mounties believe the cousins were approached by a trio of men wearing bandanas over their faces.
“Following a brief verbal exchange, the two young men were attacked by the three suspects, who were armed with knives and a baseball bat,” Learned said, characterizing the scene as “a violent donnybrook.”
Emergency crews tended to LePretre at the scene for more than 30 minutes before he was loaded into a waiting ambulance.
LePretre was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at nearby Royal Inland Hospital.
Mounties have linked LePretre and his cousin, who has been identified only as a 23-year-old Kamloops man, to a “known street gang.”
“Police have established that Archie LePretre and his cousin were victims of a focused, targeted, gang-related attack,” Learned said.
“The suspects are believed to be from a known rival gang.”
KTW received an email from a family member of LePretre, claiming he wasn’t a gang member.
“He was not and never was part of a gang,” the email reads. “Get that fact straight.”
Lepretre's half sister, Chantelle Tremblay, told CTV News he was never involved with gangs.
"He's always prided himself on avoiding that type of lifestyle and I think that's why this is so shocking to our family," she said. "It makes us angry that the public will perceive him as some criminal gangbanger when he wasn't," Tremblay said.
She said she has distanced herself from some relatives and doesn't know if any of them are involved in gangs.
Lepretre, a Vancouver resident, was visiting family in Kamloops when he was killed.
Tremblay said he was supposed to come home the night before, but missed his bus and ended up staying an extra day.
Lepretre graduated from business school last June, and his sister describes him as a Vancouver Canucks fan who loved his family.
"Because he loved to cook and had dreams of one day opening his own restaurant, he cooked Christmas dinner this year at our brother's house," Tremblay said.
Learned said LePretre was never characterized as a gang member.
“We didn’t say that the young fellow is a gang member; we said that he is an associate of a gang,” Learned said.
“In order to be accepted as a full gang member, you go through a process of recruitment and development. They have different layers of integration.
“They [LePretre’s family] may well be correct. But, what we can say is that he’s a gang associate.”
LePretre’s aunt, Wanda Tremblay, spoke briefly to the media at Wednesday’s press conference.
“If anybody has any information or anything that will help us to find the individuals who did this to him, please come forward to help our family,” Tremblay said.
Learned said the exact cause of death won’t be known until investigators receive the results of an autopsy, which was slated to take place on Wednesday. He did say, however, that both LePretre and his cousin sustained “blunt-force trauma” during the altercation.
Four additional Mounties from the RCMP’s southeast district major-crimes section have been brought in to help in the investigation.
All three suspects are believed to be in their early 20s.
The first is described as a native man standing five-foot-eight and weighing between 220 and 230 pounds. He was wearing a black hat.
The second is described as a native man standing between five-foot-six and five-foot-seven and weighing between 220 and 230 pounds.
The third is described as a native man, standing five-foot-eight and weighing between 180 and 190 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to call Kamloops Mounties at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.