As authorities try to apprehend two teenage murder suspects in northern Manitoba, alleged to have killed three people in British Columbia last week, personal details of one of the suspects paints a dark picture of a troubled youth.
"He sounded a bit depressed, you know like most ‘nerd(s)’ from the internet, spending a shit ton of time playing video games, fond of history but probably not really ‘sociable’ guy I guess,” an acquaintance of Bryer Schmegelsky, who interacted with him over Steam, an online gaming platform, told VICE over the platform.
Photographs obtained by the Globe and Mail, were reportedly sent by Schmegelsky to another user of Steam familiar with the eighteen year-old from Port Alberni, BC. They showed a Nazi armband and a Hitler Youth knife inscribed with the German phrase for “Blood and Honour.” There are also photos of Schmegelsky in camo gear with an airsoft rifle and another of him wearing a gas mask.
“Those photos have been widely distributed online through social media and through conventional media as well,” an RCMP police spokesperson said Thursday. “We are aware of those photos and we have forwarded them off to the investigators for their awareness.”
VICE obtained another disturbing photo linked to Schmegelsky’s Instagram page, which is now deleted, showing the teen with what appears to be a gun barrel in his mouth. It’s unclear if the gun is real. VICE has decided not to use the graphic photo.
Schemegelsky’s father told the Canadian Press his son was troubled and believed he was on a suicide mission. He told the outlet that he would go out in a “blaze of glory.”
“Mounties are going to shoot first and ask questions later," he said. "He's going to be dead today or tomorrow, I know that."
Alan Schemegelsky said his son was influenced negatively by the internet.
"He hasn't been nurtured. He doesn't have a driver's licence. He never learned to ride a bike. He craved love and affection," he said. "His influences haven't been good. His influences have been YouTube and video games.
“A normal child doesn't travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does."
Details regarding McLeod are currently sparse, but an account seemingly connected to him on Steam interacted with Schemegelsky as recently as a month and a half ago.
The pair are wanted in connection to the deaths of a young tourist couple, Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese, and a retired UBC lecturer, Leonard Dyck. Police believe that Fowler and Deese were killed on July 14, and their bodies were found the next day in a ditch next to the Alaskan highway. On July 19, police were alerted to the teens' truck burning off a highway six hours away from the previous murder scene. The truck led to the discovery of Dyck’s body two kilometres away.
The teenage pair were initially believed to be missing, and perhaps even victims, but were connected to the crimes on July 23. The pair had been traveling eastward in a Toyota Rav 4 and were spotted in Saskatchewan on Sunday. On Monday, police found the SUV burned in northern Manitoba near the town of Gillam. It is unknown where the pair have gone, and a massive manhunt is now occurring in the small town 11 hours north of Winnipeg.
The conditions of the area in which the burned SUV was found are notoriously harsh. The deputy mayor of Gillam told the Canadian Press, “if they are wandering around in the bush, they couldn't have picked a worse time… I'm quite sure they'll be more than happy to have someone find them.”
On Facebook the two were friends with a now-deleted page called “Illusive Gameing [sic]”. This name shares a YouTube page featuring a Nazi insignia as a profile picture. The majority of the far-right online is soaked with irony and the IllusiveGameing account seems no different.
The YouTube account linked to Illusive Gameing had, in the past, ironically interacted with other YouTube accounts like one made for Adolf Hitler in which the user says “its your boi Adolf!” This particular YouTube page is linked with pages on Steam of players from Port Alberni named Kam and Bryron.
VICE spoke to one acquaintance of a Steam account which featured the far-right banner for the Azov Battalion, an armed Ukrainian militia with links to neo-Naziism, as a profile picture allegedly used by Schmeglsky. He said he never heard Schmeglsky expose far-right ideology.
"Nazism? Nah. I even thought he was like communist or something like that,” the user said. “I'm actually from (the political) right and he didn't seem really on my side politically."
The two teenage suspects, considered armed and dangerous, remain at large.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available.
Kids Help Phone
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
In the US:
Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.