Bryan Schmegelsky, one of two teenagers subject to a high-profile manhunt for the murder of three, is having his identity flushed out to the public. His personal history includes threats to classmates, hints at his desire to commit suicide, and posts of pictures featuring Nazi paraphernalia.
One old classmate, Madison Hempstead, spoke out to Global News about going to school with Schmegelsky. Madison described his awkward disposition characterized by a violent imagination.
“There were times he would tell me and my friends ways he wanted to kill us and then himself, which is scary,” Schmegelsky’s former grade-seven classmate said. “One of my friends commented that Bryer said he wanted to kill his whole family.”
“[He] would say things about how he would cut our heads off and then he would take a gun and put it in his mouth and shoot himself in front of us. Pretty detailed stuff,”
Hempstead only interacted with Schmegelsky in Grade seven. However, another classmate who had been with Schmegelsky from elementary to the first year of high school described the murder suspect as an “angry kid.”
Despite local doubts, Hempstead rejects other residents in her B.C town’s disbelief as to Schmegelsky’s guilt.
“All the parents are saying like, ‘Oh it’s not them, they had such a bright future, they look like good kids, they don’t look like they’d be a criminal. But what does a criminal look like?”
At the moment, Schmegelsky and his childhood friend are Kam Mcleod are suspected to be somewhere in Manitoba. The RCMP believe they are near the northern community of Gillam where their burned car was found. The few roadways and gas stations around the town of Gillam lead the police to believe the two teens will not easily escape sight.
When they are found, Schmegelsky’s father suspects his son will go out on a “blaze of glory.”
“He’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end,” the father said as he started to cry. “Basically, he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that. Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I’m so sorry all this had to happen.”
“He wants his hurt to end. They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do.”
The 19-year-old murder suspect’s father has also commented on his son’s apparent fascination with Nazism. In an investigation by The Globe and Mail, photos of Schmegelsky were released showing the young man wearing a gas-mask and yet another of a Nazi flag and Hitler Youth knife.
In a conversation with one boy who played video games with Schmegelsky he had to cut his online connections with the murder suspect after his incessant praising of Adolf Hitler.
“[The] photos have been widely distributed online through social media and through conventional media as well,” commented an RCMP spokesperson. “We are aware of those photos and we have forwarded them off to the investigators for their awareness.”
On the Facebook page—now removed—linked to Bryer Schmegelsky it shows he also liked the page of the Young Communist League of Victoria.
The Communist League has since released a statement confirming that Schmegelsky was never a member of their organization.
“It would not be the first time that ultra-right people troll progressive organisations’ pages (including the YCL-LJC’s) and media to attack and disrupt their activities and try to intimidate progressive activists,” they said.
Older Schmegelsky believes it is unlikely his son is a Nazi sympathizer. However, he has also remarked on one visit to a surplus store eight months ago, when Schmegelsky expressed his fascination over some Nazi artifacts being sold.
“I was disgusted and dragged him out. My grandparents fled the Ukraine with three small children during the Second World War.”
One nearby military surplus vendor recalled how three weeks ago two teens bought a similar knife to the one Schmegelsky shot a picture of. The teens, possibly Schmegelsky and Mcleod, were apparently “really excited.”
Nonetheless, the father maintains the boy often expressed feelings of Russian nationalism, that the father credits to his son’s long stay with his mother between the ages 8 to 16.
“He thought he was Russian. Germans are their enemies,”
Apparently younger Schmegelsky liked to listen to Russian rap artists, and was a supporter of leaders like Vladimir Putin as well as Donald Trump. On his political inclinations, the father commented that the boy “liked strong speakers.”
Schmegelsky and Mcleod have been charged with the second-degree murder of one, at first, unidentified man. The elderly man has recently been confirmed as Leonard Dyck of Vancouver, a professor emeritus of botany at UBC.