Stanley Park seawall stabbing was premeditated: VPD
The stabbing death of an amateur photographer on the Stanley Park seawall nearly one year ago was premeditated, investigators believe.
Vancouver police made the announcement a day after it was made public that a first-degree murder charge had been laid in the death of Lubomir "Lubo" Kunik.
The 61-year-old was found on the seawall near Second Beach in February suffering from stab wounds. The dog walker who made the grim discovery called 911.
Tyler Anthony Lagimodiere, a 29-year-old from Vancouver, has been charged in the case. He is being held in custody pending another scheduled court appearance later this month.
Officials have provided few details about the motive, but said they do not believe the stabbing was a hate crime.
"The murder is believed to be random in nature and not believed to be targeted. Mr. Lagimodiere and Mr. Kunik did not know each other as far as the evidence we have, had never met prior to the incident," Supt. Mike Porteous said at a news conference.
Porteous told reporters that he remembered Lagimodiere from past incidents.
"He's had a challenging life here in Vancouver that has caused him to have contact with police from time to time. Hence his record," Porteous said.
Court records show a man with the same name and age has a lengthy criminal history including convictions for firearms possession, break and enter, robbery and uttering threats.
Porteous called the case challenging and complex, requiring "almost the spectrum of investigative methods at (investigators') disposal."
During the investigation, officers obtained dashboard camera footage from CTV News showing an unidentified person walking through the park. However, police said Wednesday the man in the footage is not the suspect.
Lagimodiere was charged based on a forensic link between evidence found at the scene and the accused, Porteous said. He would not provide further details, but said what was found on the seawall was "the tiniest piece of forensic evidence."
The link to the suspect was identified within about six weeks of the stabbing, he said.
To secure a charge, crews then had to investigate the suspect's background, movements and activities, Porteous said.
"I can't go into specifics as that will come out in the courts."
What they found led them to believe the stabbing was premeditated, he said, but police were not able to discuss theories on motive.
"I can't speak specifically to what was in the suspect's mind and I hesitate to hypothesize about what ifs… you can draw your own conclusions," he said.
Porteous said police are looking into possible links with other incidents, but so far the death doesn't appear to be connected.
He added that Lagimodiere is not considered a suspect in another attack in Stanley Park that occurred just months before the Kunik killing.
An elderly man was taken to hospital after being attacked in a parking lot near Brockton Oval in November 2016. A lanky man was caught on surveillance camera walking away from the scene, and although police released a clip of the person of interest, the case remains open.
Porteous thanked the public for helping investigators as they worked on the Kunik case.
"The public went above and beyond because there was fear and alarm," he said.
"The message to the public is that they can feel safe. The VPD, these members of the homicide unit, leave no stone unturned in investigating stranger attacks or threats to public safety."
Kunik was beloved by co-workers and customers at Ricoh, the imaging and electronics company where he worked.
"The team truly admired his passion to help others around him – within the office and beyond," a colleague said in a statement provided to CTV News.
In the fall, Ricoh dedicated a technical training room to his memory.
"We will always treasure his positive and motivating character," the statement said.
An online memorial said Kunik was born in Slovakia and moved to Vancouver at a young age. He loved to explore and "climbed to every mountain top he could find."
The page describes him as tough, entertaining, loyal and intellectual, and says that he worked as a professor.
"We can no longer see you with our eyes, touch with our hands, but we feel you in our hearts forever. We miss your voice, your laugh, your stories, your wisdom," the memorial reads.
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko