'If you are going to shoot me, just get it over with': Vernon man who fired a gun at his girlfriend jailed | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'If you are going to shoot me, just get it over with': Vernon man who fired a gun at his girlfriend jailed

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
February 21, 2020 - 11:30 AM

A Vernon man who pointed a gun at his girlfriend before firing it into the wall above their bed has been sentenced to four and a half years in jail.

In a recently published sentence hearing Dec. 18, 2019, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sharon Matthews told Derek Ryan Baptiste she hoped by the time he got out of prison he would be "clean and sober" and "receiving help for the trauma" he had experienced in his life.

In February 2019, Justice Matthews found Baptiste guilty of five of 11 charges including intentionally discharging a firearm, pointing a firearm, assault and uttering threats to cause her death or bodily harm.

Court documents say in January 2018 Baptiste walked into the couple's bedroom, pointed a semi-automatic rifle at his girlfriend and fired it into the ceiling, leaving a hole above their bed.

"She thought Mr. Baptiste was going to shoot her in the head," says the Justice in the decision. "She turned her head away 'to make it easy' on him. She turned her head back and saw him lift the barrel as he pulled the trigger."

The incident took place while the couple was living in the home of Baptiste's father on the Okanagan Indian Band. The couple were both drinking heavily and using heroin and methamphetamine daily. On the day of the shooting, Baptiste was suffering from heroin withdrawal. The couple had been arguing that morning and Baptiste had left the home and met a man and bought an SKS rifle.

"Mr. Baptiste went back into the bedroom where (his girlfriend) was. She was lying on the bed. He pointed the SKS rifle at her, such that she was staring at the barrel of the gun.... (he) was angrier than she had ever seen him. He was breathing hard and his eyes were very intense," the decision says.

The girlfriend testified that she'd told Baptiste, "if you are going to shoot me, just get it over with, as long as it makes you feel like a man." She said she thought she was going to die.

"(Baptiste) pulled the trigger, but at the same time moved the SKS rifle up above her head," says the decision.

The next day Baptiste left the home in his father's car. The father called the police and reported it stolen.

The following day, Jan. 8, 2018, the RCMP responded to a report a car had come off the road on the Okanagan Indian Band reserve. Police discovered Baptiste behind the wheel of the car along with the rifle and arrested him.

In her sentencing, Justice Sharon Matthews says reports indicate Baptiste started drinking at the age of five. Both of his parents suffered abuse at residential schools as children and Baptiste has fetal alcohol syndrome and ADHD. He began drinking daily at 17 years old and was using crack cocaine.

"He started using heroin while incarcerated," Matthews said.

The 36-year-old's criminal record dates back to when he was 13 years old and includes 30 youth convictions and 35 adult convictions.

"He has been in jail many times and for many years of his adult life," reads the decision. "Mr. Baptiste stated that his longest period of sobriety since age 13 was two months."

"I have found that you intended to do the things I convicted you of, I also accept that because of certain parts of your background over which you had no control, you have less ability to make good choices and to not do things that are harmful than people who have not had the significant disadvantages you face," Justice Matthews said during sentencing.

With time already served in custody, Baptiste will spend three years and one month behind bars.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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