NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C.—A man accused of killing a 13-year-old student and wounding another in a British Columbia high school got a hunting knife from a sporting goods store about two hours before the attacks, a Crown prosecutor said Monday.
Rob Macgowan showed the B.C. Supreme Court nine video clips of a man outside and inside the store in Abbotsford on Nov. 1, 2016, and said an employee will testify that Gabriel Klein stole the knife.
Klein was 21 when he allegedly walked into the rotunda of Abbotsford Secondary School through a public library connected with the school library and stabbed the girls.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. The trial is being heard by a judge alone.
Macgowan told the court that 13-year-old Letisha Reimer died of 14 stab wounds.
The other girl, whose name is under a publication ban, suffered four stab wounds, including to her right eyelid, left shoulder and right side of her chest, leading to a collapsed lung.
The court was shown a video taken by a student from the third floor overlooking the rotunda, where a man is seen repeatedly stabbing a screaming girl on the floor, with a patch of blood behind her. The man is seen walking backwards away from her after the knife falls to the floor.
On Monday, Klein stared at the floor inside the prisoner’s box for most of the proceedings.
Klein had been held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam since the death, but the B.C. Review Board found him mentally fit to stand trial on the charges in January.
Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes allowed him to stay at the hospital instead of being transferred to a pretrial centre so he could continue being treated for schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions.
Macgowan said a man described as Klein was seen in the school library wearing a camouflage-style shirt and carrying a large backpack about 15 minutes before he entered the rotunda, where he approached two girls sitting on chairs.
One student who saw a man holding a knife in a stabbing motion toward one of the girls “yelled to his classmates that they were in trouble,” he told court, adding an art teacher who saw the attack was heard saying “Get off her.”
Macgowan said a kitchen assistant from the school’s food program was leaving work through the rotunda when she was handed a knife by a school staff member and covered it up with her sweater as administrators attended to the injured girls and first responders arrived.
Krysten Montague, a border services officer at the nearby Huntingdon border crossing, testified she dealt with Klein two days before the stabbings when officials detained him for illegally trying to cross into the United States.
Montague said Klein told her he got lost and unknowingly crossed into the U.S. while looking for work cleaning chicken coops at farms in Abbotsford.
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“I didn’t necessarily believe his story,” she said, adding Klein was clean cut and wasn’t dressed like someone who would be working on a farm.
Montague said five days later, she saw Klein’s photo, which had been released by police, on her phone in connection with the stabbings at the school and told her supervisors she’d dealt with him at the border.