Trial begins for man accused in shotgun incident at Penticton elementary school

The trial for a man who allegedly discharged a shotgun at the door of a École Entre Lacs school began Tuesday

The man accused of shooting the lock on a Penticton elementary school door faced his first day of trial today.

Yvon Omer Martel is facing charges of assault, breaking and entering, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, unlawfully discharging a firearm and using a firearm to commit an indictable offence after he allegedly discharged a shotgun at the door of École Entre Lacs on Dec. 11, 2016.

Crown counsel Ann Lerchs said Martel was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute which culminated with him shooting his shotgun inside a Penticton residence during the early morning hours of Dec. 11. Martel was later found by police at École Entre Lacs on Nelson Avenue after allegedly shooting the lock on the door, entering and waiting for RCMP to arrive.

The two-day trial began on Tuesday with Crown counsel calling the first of their five witnesses to take the stand.

Security guard Michael Blake was the first to allegedly spot Martel in the school. He described an eerie scene of peaking in the window and spotting a man sitting silently in a chair in the school hallway.

Blake was on patrol for Penticton Security and at 4:50 a.m. received a call from his company that a motion sensor had been set off at the École Entre Lacs school. He testified that upon completing a perimeter check, he approached a damaged door with a lock that looked mangled and was hanging off the door.

He attempted to open the door and it wouldn’t budge so he looked in the window saw a man sitting in a chair illuminated by some light. The same man he identified in court as Martel.

At first he thought the man in the chair might be a custodian so he motioned for the man to let him in. Blake stated Martel stood up and walked to the door, opening it for him to enter. Blake said Martel didn’t utter a word before he walked back to his chair, sat back down, lit a cigarette and started drinking a pop. The pop, testified Blake, was from a nearby pile of Christmas hamper food donations the students had brought in.

Upon seeing the pop and the cigarette Blake knew the man did not work for the school and asked the man, ‘What are you doing here?’.

Blake reported Martel remained very calm and showed little emotion as he told him, “None of your business, you’re not the RCMP, you should leave as I have a 12-gauge shotgun.”

While he did not see the gun himself, Blake testified that he said nothing else to Martel before quickly exiting the building. He called 911 and RCMP arrived minutes later.

“I did not feel threatened,” Blake told defence counsel James Pennington in cross examination.

Const. Christopher Knock was the first on scene after Blake placed the 911 call. He described entering the school and seeing Martel sitting in the chair in the hallway. Knock testified Martel was illuminated purely by the lights of the nearby Christmas tree and that he also saw he was smoking.

Knock said three officers entered the school with their guns drawn and that Martel was entirely co-operative.

Much like Blake, Knock described Martel as having a super calm demeanour and having “followed instructions to a tee.”

Martel has a prior criminal record which Crown previously noted was dated, but included multiple break and enter charges and an assault charge in 2000.

Crown is expected to finish with its witnesses Tuesday afternoon which includes two more officers and Martel’s wife.

The trial is then expected to continue Wednesday morning.