3 p.m. update: RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk held a brief media conference with reporters outside the West Kelowna RCMP Detachment Tuesday afternoon. Here is a rundown of that media briefing.
Q. You can confirm we have a double homicide
A. Yes. At about 11 p.m. last night (Monday), the West Kelowna RCMP responded to a report of a single vehicle collision at the Terravita apartment complex on Auburn Road.
Q. When you got there you discovered this was not just an MVA?
A. On the investigators attendance they located a black SUV vehicle that had struck a light standard at the entrance of the parking lot. They examined the vehicle and inside they found two deceased individuals. On scene investigation last night determined the death of these two individuals was not attributed to the collision itself and have deemed the deaths as homicides. At this point in time the Southeast District RCMP Major Crimes Unit has taken lead of the investigation. Last night in canvassing witnesses it was learned that a male was seen fleeing from the vehicle shortly after the collision and prior police attendance. Investigators did call out a police service dog unit which did tracked the possible direction of travel for several kilometres last night.
Q. Where did that lead?
A. The possible suspect direction of travel from the Terravita complex was from the wooded landscaped area nearby the apartment building, down to a walking which led to Bentley Road. The direction of travel then was on Bentley Road and Daimler Road in a southwest direction with the trail eventually leading the dog team to the Bylands Road area, eventually over Highway 97 and ending in the Ross Road area in the vicinity of the Boucherie Mountain complex.
Q. Are you able to tell us anything about the victims? Were they related to each other? Ages, sex?
A. At this time the investigation is in its infancy. We are not releasing any information or details with respect to the identity of the two individuals at this time. When the information is available and deemed appropriate to release we will do so. At this time we are seeking public assistance from anybody in the areas I have just described or in the Terravita complex that may have seen something suspicious last night or seen an individual running through those areas which would have been followed within about 30 minutes of the dog service team. We ask anybody with information with respect to this homicide contact the non-emergency line of the West Kelowna RCMP. For those who wish to provide information but would like to remain anonymous to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Q. The sex of the victims. You can at least answer that.
A. At this time the investigators are working diligently at confirming the identification of these two individuals and completing the next of kin notification. As you can well understand if we are not in a position to release much detail of their identity even gender, age or origins. This is where we are at right now. The first priority of course is identifying these people and speaking with their loved ones.
Q. You haven't identified them yet?
A. At this time the investigators are working at confirming the identity of the two individuals and making inroads in contacting the next of kin.
Q. Do you have any leads you are following as to who might be the person that was running away?
A. This investigation evolved in quite a strange manner I guess you could say. It was first reported as a single vehicle collision and this is what our investigators believed at first they were attending to. Then on their attendance they found these two deceased individuals in the vehicle. It was quickly determined the deaths were homicide and criminal in nature and not related to the collision itself.
Q. You can't tell us whether it was gun shots?
A. At this time the cause of death is not being released. Autopsies have not been scheduled to determine the actual cause of death. Again, we will make available as much information as possible when it is appropriate to do so. Again, we do seek public assistance from anybody in those areas from the Terravita area down through Byland Road, over Highway 97 into the Ross Road area and Mount Boucherie area. There is one specific residential area which is the Bentley Road area where somebody at around 11'ish last night may have seen an individual in flight.
Q. The people who live at Terravite, do they have anything to fear?
A. At this point in time we don't want to alarm the public. We are though in the middle of an investigation dealing with a homicide investigation. With that being outstanding we do ask people to remain vigilant and again, for anything suspicious in nature, please contact our investigators.
Q. Homicide could mean anything. Is it a homicide or murder?
A. When we state homicide, essentially it means death at the hands of another. This is a murder investigation that we are dealing with.
Q. Is the public in danger?
A. Whenever we have a serious crime against a person - with respect to public safety we are asking people to remain vigilant. If they know of any information about this incident to contact our investigators. If they feel they saw something suspicious to contact West Kelowna RCMP. Again, we do ask they remain vigilant in case there are further developments.
Q. Do you if the victims had any identification on them?
A. I don't know that. I don't have that information.
Q. Is there any reason to believe this is gang related?
A. Again, with respect to the findings, right now the investigation is in it's preliminary stages. We'll make further information available once things are confirmed and we know more about these two individuals.
1 p.m. update: RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says they are not ready to release the names or sex of the two dead homicide victims in West Kelowna. Moskaluk says the male who took off on foot might have headed towards Bourcherie Rd. He says the public should be vigilant.
12:18 p.m. update: RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk has confirmed on Twitter the deaths have now been ruled a double homicide. A press conference will be held shortly. Castanet is on the scene and will provide more details when they become available.
12:10 p.m. update: The South East District Major Crimes unit is now handling the case. Castanet was the only media outlet on location through the night and we were there when the two bodies were removed from the SUV. We will have a full video later today.
Early this morning the BC Coroner's Service finished the grisly task of removing two bodies from a smashed SUV in West Kelowna.
The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Monday night. Witnesses say the large black SUV took out a cement and brick light post before it crashed into the side of the Terravita condo complex.
RCMP say a male passenger escaped on foot before they arrived at the crash site. The dog team was called in and a manhunt was underway. RCMP believed the man was heading to Kelowna, and they blocked off several streets looking for the runaway -- it is unclear if the man was captured at this time.
When emergency crews reached the SUV they discovered both the driver and the passenger were deceased. Even though the airbags were deployed, the crash did not appear to be serious enough to cause death.
RCMP could not confirm if the crash caused the deaths or if the the people were already injured when the vehicle slammed into the exterior wall of the apartment, next to the underground parking entrance.
The Coroner and RCMP officers worked throughout the night gathering clues and securing the area. They removed the passenger at 4:30 a.m. and the driver was pulled from the wreck at 5:30 a.m.
We will have more details as they become available.