Northern B.C. killings continue to have impact on Port Alberni

WatchThe crimes of Bryer Schmegelsky and Cam McLeod thrust their hometown of Port Alberni into the national spotlight for the worst reasons. We sent our Skye Ryan back there, to see how the community is healing in the wake of the tragedy.

When you want to know what’s on the minds of people Port Alberni, Archie Zanolli is the man to go to.

He’s been cutting hair and being a listening ear in this town for 47 years. He says without a doubt. a crime has never cut so deeply into the community as the northern B.C. murders.

“Oh my God, it’s major,” said Zanolli.

“[A] major shock. I mean how can it not?” he said.

“Especially from a small town like that,” said Port Alberni resident Lyon Marsden.

“Shake you right to the core.”

The three northern B.C. homicides in July are still being felt in the city. On Friday, police said the two Port Alberni suspects — Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod — confessed to the murders on video. 

“Kind of tore the community apart a little bit,” said Zanolli.

“It’s unbelievable that this would happen in a small community,” he said.

Schmegelsky and McLeod grew up in this hard-working mill and salmon fishing community. They worked at the local Wal-Mart many here have shopped at. So when the pair’s actions thrust this city into the international spotlight, it also dragged their city’s reputation through the mud with them.

“Pretty devastating thing,” said Marsden.

Marsden says the ongoing question of why means closure has been out of reach. RCMP said Schmegelsky and McLeod did not explain their motives behind the killings in the video.

“Five lives,” said Marsden.

“How can you understand? The reason why, you can never come up with it, never,” he said.

Zanolli expects Friday’s RCMP report to stir up new conversations about the case, and he hopes, at last, it may bring some answers that so many are in search of.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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