Survivor testifies at double murder trial
When the gunfire began, Bradley Knight thought something else was hitting the car.
The soul survivor of a targeted shooting, Knight told the court Thursday he had gone along for the ride when his friend, David Franks, had set out from his home during the early morning of Jan. 25, 2017, to sell some cocaine.
“I reluctantly went because I wasn’t feeling well and said I didn’t want to go,” Knight testified during a B.C. Supreme Court trial for Perry Andrew Charlie. “And he says, ‘oh, come on,’ and I went.”
Another friend of Franks, Thomas Reed, had volunteered to drive them to the meet up point, a pullout on Foothills Boulevard near North Nechako Road.
While Reed was behind the wheel and Franks in the front passenger seat, Knight said he was squished in the back seat among Reed’s work clothes and with Reed’s little white dog, Molly.
When they reached the spot, Reed pulled in roughly alongside the driver’s side of a van, no more than three metres away, and with the headlights of both vehicles facing towards a ditch alongside Foothills.
“Dave sat there and I said to him, ‘if you’re going to do this, do it and let’s get out of here,’” Knight told the court. “He got out of the car and walked to the van and was immediately back from the van saying ‘go, go, go!’”
Franks was crawling in through the door when Knight heard a “bang, bang, bang!”
“I thought it was a baseball bat, honestly,” he told the court.
But when he saw spots emerge all over the roof and heard glass breaking, Knight took cover. “I was down on the floor as fast as possible,” he testified.
He felt a searing burn in his hip that left him with a wound that “aches always” and suffered a graze to the back of a shoulder that has left him without sensation in that spot.
Franks, Reed and Molly were not so fortunate.
“It turned out to be gunfire and it hit them more or less right away. They never got a chance to do anything,” Knight said and later said he heard “just gurgling” from Franks and Reed.
Molly was also found dead, the court has heard. Knight said the last he remembers of her is the dog running across his back.
When Knight heard the van leave, he called 911 and was taken to hospital.
Knight said he was unable to see the attackers.
“I have no idea to this day,” he said when asked if he had an idea of how many there were. “All I think I heard when it was done was ‘let’s go,’ so I would assume it would be at least two people.”
Charlie is facing two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder with a firearm.
Co-accused Seaver Tye Miller and Joshua Steven West have each pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and Aaron Ryan Moore to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and await sentencing.
Crown prosecution is theorizing that a hit had been ordered on Franks after he had offended someone in the local drug scene.
Tall, thin and frail, Knight is in his late 60s. Franks was 46 years old and Reed was 51 at the time of their deaths. In contrast, at the time of their arrests, Charlie was 24, Miller was 21, Moore was 27 and West was 33.
Under cross examination, Knight, who has convictions for two counts of trafficking, agreed that drug dealing is a dangerous business and that most involved often carry weapons. But Knight said he never did, “and as far as I knew, Dave never did.”
Also on Thursday, the court heard from another eyewitness to the shooting. Steven Ray was sitting in the very back of the van when the gunfire broke out and testified that Moore had also remained inside and was sitting beside him.
Ray’s friend, Thomas Lee, owned the van and had been hired to drive the four around the city and Ray had gone along for the ride. Ray said he knew Moore only because he introduced himself after getting into the van and did not know who any of the others were.
When they reached the spot, Ray said he was told to get in the back and to keep his head down. When the gunfire broke out, Ray said he peeked out briefly but could see only silhouettes but under cross examination said he was 90 per cent sure it was Moore who was sitting beside him.
Once the shooting had ended and they returned to the van, Ray said they sounded “anxious but almost happy” as they congratulated each other on carrying out the job.
Asked if Moore said anything, Ray replied that “he said that if he had a gun, he would’ve been there too.”
The trial continues today.
Prince George RCMP investigators work the scene of a double homicide on Foothills Boulavard near North Nechako Road on the morning of Jan. 25, 2017.