Innocent woman narrowly escaped gang violence in Kamloops, court heard | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Innocent woman narrowly escaped gang violence in Kamloops, court heard

June 18, 2021 - 7:45 AM

A woman staying in a Kamloops hotel found herself to be an unwitting victim in a drug trade altercation in the fall of 2020.

On Sept. 21, 2020, around 5 a.m. three men wearing masks kicked and beat a door with a baseball bat at room 208 of the Howard Johnson Hotel on Columbia Street.

The three men were looking for a man called "Joey" to collect money that he owed them. However, the person in room 208 wasn't Joey. It was a woman who booked into the hotel while she awaited surgery at nearby Royal Inland Hospital later that day.

The woman, who asked not to be named, barricaded herself in her room and called both the front desk and her husband for help, before fleeing out the window, according to court documents.

She was not known to the three masked men, nor was she known to police. The city is no stranger to gang violence but it's not always gangsters themselves who are at risk as innocent people get caught in the middle.

The masked men were unsuccessful at entering the room and left the hotel before an employee called police. RCMP, however, did not respond immediately because the suspects had left the scene.

An attempted break in at the Howard Johnson turned out to be the second event the suspects were involved in that night.

Around 4 a.m., two of the masked men, Xavier Kalelest and Lawrence Pooli, were involved in a break in and assault at a house on Pine Street. According B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan, the home was "known by police to be a hive of drug-related activity."

Kalelest, and another man named David Tremblay, broke into the home and assaulted the owner. Tremblay's girlfriend lived in the basement suite, and the assault was "payback" for a landlord and tenant dispute.

After the homeowner was assaulted, Pooli and Kalelest returned from their Howard Johnson visit with Joey. They told the homeowner that it was going to "get noisy" and that he could take a shot if he had any "beef" with Joey.

Instead, the homeowner hid in his laundry room and called police around 7:30 a.m., according to the decision.

When Kamloops RCMP arrived at the home, the homeowner told them of the Howard Johnson Hotel, and officers realized the suspects were also involved in the attempted break in reports they had received earlier.

Following an RCMP search of video surveillance at the Howard Johnson, they placed all three men under arrest.

On April 9, 2021, Justice Donegan sentenced Pooli to 543 days in prison, plus time already served, and 12 months probation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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