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Knutson arrest opens 'old wounds' for family of previous shooting victim

Kenneth Michael Knutson is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault of a peace officer, possession of a firearm while prohibited and discharging a firearm with intent to wound, maim, disfigure or endanger life.
Image Credit: Contributed
December 05, 2014 - 2:15 PM

COQUITLAM – Family members of a young Coquitlam man who died from a gunshot wound in 2002 are shaken by news the man who killed him is now implicated in the attempted murder of Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Jean-René Michaud.

“My whole family is upset... it will always hurt us,” Will Lesniak says. “It’s a very tough time for us. My mom had to cry herself to sleep last night because it opened up some old wounds.”

Will’s brother Chris Lesniak was killed after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest. The man who shot him, Kenneth Knutson, told the court during trial he was showing Chris the loaded gun when it fired by accident. Chris was 21 years old.

“We can speculate on what happened,” Will says. “You never know if it was an accident or not.”

Knutson was originally charged with second degree murder in Lesniak's case but was eventually convicted of criminal negligence causing death. Will says Knutson served around 18 months for Chris’s death. 

In the last 17 years, Knutson has dozens of charges and has convictions for assaulting a peace officer, wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, failure to stop at an accident and flight causing bodily harm or death, breaking and entering, assault, possession of stolen property, possession of controlled substance, possession of property obtained by crime. Knutson has been in and out of jail throughout his life. Recently, he had completed a 10-year driving prohibition stemming from a previous case. Due to his previous charges in relation to guns, Knutson was given a lifetime prohibition from owning firearms.

“My dad said it was a mistake to let him go free,” Will says. “He’s a very troubled man. He’s hurt our family dearly.”

“(Chris) was my brother but he was also my best friend. He was a very good kid with a good heart. He most likely would have been married with kids and had a good career,” Will says. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Now 12 years later, Knutson, 36, faces four counts: attempted murder, aggravated assault of a peace officer, possession of a firearm while prohibited and discharging a firearm with intent to wound, maim, disfigure or endanger life.

Cpl. Jean-Rene Michaud was shot after pulling over a 1998 Chrysler Intrepid around 2:45 a.m. Dec. 3. The suspect fled after Michaud’s backup returned fire. Following the incident, Kamloops RCMP along with a full complement of resources combed the Batchelor Heights residential area for potential suspects.

Along with Knutson, police have arrested Marquee Jasmin Klim, 28, who has been charged with willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer. Cpl. Cheryl Bush, a spokesperson for the RCMP, said two other suspects have been taken into custody but charges have yet to be laid.

Knutson is expected to appear in court by video conference Dec. 18, while Klim is scheduled for a bail hearing Dec. 11.

After two successful surgeries, Michaud remains in the intensive care unit at Royal Inland Hospital.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca or call 250-319-7494. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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