Officers man the beach at Thetis Lake in View Royal where a manhunt was underway for two men. (Gazette file photo)

Officers man the beach at Thetis Lake in View Royal where a manhunt was underway for two men. (Gazette file photo)

Court unable to identify shooter in drive-by shooting

Pair convicted of drug and weapon offences in relation to incident that sparked Thetis Lake manhunt

A pair of suspects have been acquitted in the drive-by shooting that left two Sooke residents injured and resulted in a five-day manhunt around Thetis Lake in 2016.

Damien Medwedrich and Josh Nickolas Arthur Lafleur were convicted of drugs and weapons offences, but Justice Frits Verhoeven was unable to determine who was responsible for pulling the trigger.

“As the Crown must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, I have no choice but to acquit Lafleur of the charges that depend on the Crown establishing that Lafleur was the shooter,” Verhoeven said in his decision dated April 27.

The incident took place in the evening of June 14, 2016 after a spat between two youth. According to court documents, Travis Twinn was shot in the abdomen and Gordon Thomas was shot in his left arm while standing in front of a residence at 7370 Ella Rd. in Sooke.

The car, driven by Medwedrich, with Lafleur in the backseat and Dustin Brown in the passenger seat, fled.

RELATED: Link between West Shore manhunt and Sooke shootings ‘likely’

On June 17, police located Medwedrich and Lafleur at Lafleur’s grandparents’ home in Langford.

Police also found a black bag containing a Glock handgun used in the shootings, an empty cartridge magazine, another handgun and drugs.

But the duo fled into a nearby wooded area, sparking a five-day manhunt around Lost Lake Road in the Highlands and the Thetis Lake area involving the West Shore RCMP, the Emergency Response Team, an RCMP helicopter, the Saanich police canine unit, as well as the Saanich and Victoria police departments.

The hunt also prompted several nearby elementary schools to lock their doors and keep students inside.

Lafleur and Medwedrich were arrested on June 19 after being found in the crawl space of a residence in Sooke.

RELATED: Charges dropped against man in Sooke shooting case

Initially, Crown charged Medwedrich, Lafleur and Brown with the shootings and other offences, however, the charges were dropped against Brown during a preliminary inquiry in provincial court in January 2017.

During the trial, Medwedrich plead guilty to four offences, including three weapons offences and a drug trafficking offence, but did not plead guilty to the offences related to the shooting. He was sentenced to serve 16.5 months of a 30-month sentence.

While it was Medwedrich, Lafleur and Brown who occupied the vehicle at the time of the shooting and Medwedrich testified the black bag containing the weapons and drugs belonged to him, Justice Verhoeven was unable to determine who fired the shots that wounded Twinn and Thomas.

“There is no other reliable evidence pointing to Lafleur, as opposed to Medwedrich, as the shooter,” he said.

RELATED: Police incident underway in Highlands and Langford

kendra.wong@gold streamgazette.com