Shooting victim has a medal

A gunshot victim from an Oliver shooting on Apr. 19 has his own past and present of run-ins with the law, including a past conviction of assault with a weapon – but he's also been awarded a medal from the Governor General.

Court documents show Thomas Szajko, a resident of the house surrounded by heavily armed RCMP officers last Wednesday, was the victim of a gunshot wound from a shooting earlier that evening. Afshin Maleki Ighani is accused of shooting Szajko with a handgun and has since been charged with attempted murder.

Following the shooting, RCMP swarmed the area around Szajko's home, believing Ighani was holed up in a motorhome on or near the property. After discovering the motorhome was empty, Ighani was the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant, ultimately captured in Princeton over the weekend.

Ighani made his first appearance in court after 9 p.m. on Saturday after his arrest. He also faces about eight other charges. Among those charges are unlawfully pointing a firearm, along with other gun charges, and counts of uttering threats to Szajko to cause harm to him and to his family.

Ighani has a history of run-ins with the law, including two deportation orders, but he's also currently going through the courts. Ighani is accused of possessing cocaine in Oliver on Jan. 25, according to court documents. For that charge, he is currently going through Penticton's courthouse, with his first court date set for May 10.

Ighani is also set for a trial, accused in a November 2014 assault causing bodily harm to Doug Henderson in Maple Ridge. That trial is scheduled to start on Aug. 28 in Port Coquitlam.

Szajko, too, has a past and present with the justice system. He's currently accused of an assault causing bodily harm stemming from an incident on Saturday, the details of which are under wraps due to a publication ban.

Szajko has previously been found guilty of assault with a weapon and mischief on New Year's Eve 2014 for two separate incidents. Szajko reportedly assaulted a man with a metal bar in September 2014 and damaged another man's vehicle the month prior according to court files.

Szajko's neighbours previously told Castanet that while he was rather rowdy, he is also a kind neighbour, describing him as a good, but troubled person.

Szajko was the recipient of a medal of bravery from the Governor General in 1995 for awakening five residents of a house that was on fire, and re-entering the house after hearing another person crying for help.

Castanet has reached out to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for details on why, after two deportation orders, Ighani remained in the country, but officials have yet to respond.


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