By Clare Ogilvie
A Surrey man has been charged
with second-degree murder following a fatal shooting in Whistler last weekend.
It’s believed the murder is the
first the resort has seen for over 30 years and it shocked the town.
“I am quite distraught,” said
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, who has lived here since 1976.
“Obviously it is something that
is of grave concern.”
Joseph Richard appeared in North Vancouver Provincial Court Monday, charged
with second degree murder.
Richard was scheduled to appear
in court Wednesday on unrelated charges. Last September he was sentenced to
five months in jail for drug trafficking.
The victim, Michael George
Boutros, 26, was in Whistler for some fun with a group of friends when he was
shot in Village Square around 2 a.m. Saturday.
Boutros’s family said the
accused was unknown to them. Boutros was a journeyman plumber.
“He was my rock — if you needed
something he’d be there right away,” the victim’s brother, Elias, told
The incident took place just as
the busy nightclubs began to empty for the evening and within sight of RCMP
officers who routinely patrol the pedestrian area.
“There were quite a few people
milling around Village Square,” said Cpl. Dale Carr of the Integrated Homicide
Investigation Team who was in Whistler to investigate the shooting.
“There was a bit of an
altercation (between two groups) and someone pulled out a handgun and shot
It happened right in front of a
Lower Mainland Police Dog Service team, which sprang into action and after a
short foot chase caught the suspect.
The Lower Mainland Forensic
Investigation Section is also conducting a crime scene examination.
For several years now the Resort
Municipality of Whistler has teamed up with law enforcement agencies from the
Lower Mainland to maintain a strong presence in the village, especially on the
weekends and during holidays when the population of the town can swell to tens
Saturday night there were at
least six officers patrolling the village on foot.
“Our message is don’t bring your
issues to the village because we are highly policed and we will get you,” said
Inspector Norm McPhail of the Sea to Sky Region.
Visitors meandering through the
village Sunday morning were caught by surprise by the police presence at a busy
intersection of the pedestrian village.
“It’s hard to believe it would
happen here,” said Peter Miles of Washington state. “I’ve been coming here for
years and sure the party scene is busy but I never thought this could happen.”
Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden,
a resident since 1973, while upset about the shooting said: “I am personally
convinced that Whistler is safe. This is an isolated incident.”
In 2003 there was a stabbing in
Whistler outside one of the nightclubs. Since then clubs have set up systems of
communication to warn each other of troublemakers and some use metal detectors
to check for weapons.
Carr said it wasn’t clear if the
suspect had come out of a club. The investigation continues.