Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Friend Says Surrey Gang Shooting Victim Was Involved in the Drug Trade

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Friend Says Surrey Gang Shooting Victim Was Involved in the Drug Trade

Article excerpt

Court hears of victims' ties to drug trade

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VANCOUVER - A bright line slices through the popular narrative of the killings of six people in a 15th-floor condo near Vancouver six years ago.

On one side are the two innocent bystanders -- 22-year-old building resident Chris Mohan and 55-year-old gas fitter Ed Schellenberg -- who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And then there are the not-so-innocent ones: a group of four young men who the police and Crown say were linked to the drug trade, including a 21-year-old alleged trafficker named Corey Lal, who, prosecutors allege, was the intended target of the killing.

Details about the four, including their ties to drugs, have trickled out during the first week of the trial of three alleged gangsters charged in their murders. Three of them have been described as friends, while the fourth was an older brother. The youngest was 19; the oldest, 26.

Among them was Ryan Bartolomeo, a 19-year-old who lived with his mother in Surrey, frequently stayed home playing video games, and, according to a friend, was involved in selling drugs, the trial heard.

Katie Bott, who described herself as a close friend who spoke with Bartolomeo almost every day, said she knew Bartolomeo made his money in the drug trade. Shortly after the murders, she told police Bartolomeo was a drug runner.

"I had seen him with drugs and he put it in a duffel bag or a bag and he would drop it off," Bott testified Thursday.

"Sometimes I would be with him when he put the drugs in his bag and he would leave and I would stay where I was. ... I assumed he dropped it off," she continued later.

Bott said she knew Bartolomeo for about seven years, first meeting in junior high, and they had stayed close ever since. She would see him four or five times a week, she said.

Bartolomeo had drug-related legal problems about a year before he died, said Bott, though she didn't elaborate. …

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