The trial of two men accused of firing multiple shots at a group of men in the street who wanted to fight them began this week in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.
Michael Drynock and Kleon Pop each face a number of charges related to the incident, which took place on a residential street in Merritt on the night of April 22, 2017.
Justice Dev Dley heard from Alex Collins — a witness at the centre of the case — who testified over the course of two days this week.
Court heard Collins, 26, recruited four friends to confront the two men after Drynock sucker-punched him earlier in the day at a house party in the 2500-block of Coldwater Avenue.
Everyone at the party had been drinking and the incident continued outside the home as Collins tried to leave.
Collins testified he said he “was going to come back with my boys and we were going to fight,” which led Pop to pull out what appeared to be a rifle from the trunk of his car, point it at him and reply, “What! What!”
Collins said Drynock punched him a few more times in the back of the head as he left the party. Collins said he then went to the home of his friend, Ed, and waited for him to arrive.
Ultimately, Collins, Ed, Ed’s brother and two other men decided to walk back to the party to confront Drynock and Pop.
Collins testified his intention was to have a fist fight with Drynock and brought his friends as backup in case anyone else at the party tried to jump in.
He said they were not carrying weapons, but defence lawyer Richard Kaiser proposed they were, pointing out Collins knew he was returning to a place where there were guns and would know he needed to protect himself.
“It’s how we settle things in Merritt,” Collins said. “We don’t bring guns.”
It was dark by the time the group arrived and began yelling from the street for Drynock and Pop to come outside to fight, Collins testified.
No lights were on in the house, he said, noting he saw the curtains behind the front balcony moving. He said the front door opened a few inches and he saw what he thought was the barrel of a rifle poke out.
“They said, ‘You want this?’ and then the shots started going off,” Collins told Crown prosecutor Laura Drake, adding those words sounded like they came from Kleon Pop, though he admitted he couldn’t see who was holding the gun.
Collins said he heard five or six rifle shots and saw dust kicking up off the road as he ran and slid behind a van parked across the street.
He admitted to the defence he didn’t see muzzle flashes when the shooting began.
After waiting about 15 seconds for the shots to stop, Collins said he and his friends ran toward Diamond Vale elementary, where the five men made sure no one was injured.
Collins said he then saw two people approaching, who said something to the effect of, “You want us? We’re right here,” adding it sounded as though the pair was reloading.
At that point, Collins said, he ran off by himself.
According to police, Pop and Drynock were arrested at the school without incident.
Kaiser suggested to Collins that he ran because he didn’t want to be found by police because he had a gun.
While he admitted he heard police sirens when he was in the field, Collins said he ran because he heard the reloading sounds.
Collins wasn’t interviewed by the RCMP until four days after the incident, court heard, and initially lied to police about being at the home when the shots were fired. When confronted with evidence by an officer that he was there, Collins gave a second statement.
The trial is scheduled for 12 days and began Monday with the testimony of witnesses, primarily the five complainants from the group that confronted Dryknock and Pop.
Dryknock and Pop are facing multiple charges, including intentionally discharging a firearm and being reckless to the lives or safety of other people.