The girlfriend of one of the men killed in a brazen downtown Chilliwack stabbing on July 7 says he was just trying to help when he was attacked by a group of men.
“I was jumped by three girls, and while that was happening Steve was stabbed,” said the woman, who asked not to be named because she is concerned about the fact that police had no one in custody five days after the incident.
The woman said she and her boyfriend, Steven Drage, saw what they thought was her daughter being chased by a group in the Empress parking lot downtown. The two ran out of their apartment to help, but instead the group turned on them, she said.
“I thought my daughter was being attacked, that’s why Steven and I went out,” she told The Progress adding that’s when one girl attacked her after which two others joined in. “When I turned around he was surrounded and everything else was a blur.
“I didn’t even realize what happened, and [the assailants] were walking around nonchalant. Then I walked around the truck and I started screaming ‘They stabbed him! They stabbed him!’”
What is frustrating the woman is that no one from the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has taken a formal statement from her nor did IHIT document her injuries.
“I’ve got road rash all over my back from being on the ground, scratches across my chest, chunks ripped out of my hair,” she said.
Another source of anger is that with so little information in the early days, there were suggestions on social media that the victims of the homicides were homeless or drug-addicted street people.
“Everyone just thinks they were homeless junkies,” she said of Drage and Doug Presseau, the other victim. “They had people who cared about them and neither one of them was homeless and neither one of them was a junkie.”
She said Drage, who would have turned 52 on July 16, was as a chef at Greek Islands where he sometimes worked seven days a week, including double shifts.
“He was a hardworking, good person,” she said.
The second victim, Presseau, was apparently stabbed near Princess Avenue and Nowell Street where he was going to or from his own nearby apartment.
Names of the deceased have not yet been officially released, but tributes poured out on Facebook for Presseau and for Drage. Many posted condolences and rest-in-peace messages online, with some suggesting that Presseau, too, was killed trying to intervene to stop the violence.
Five days after the triple stabbing left Presseau and Drage dead, no one is in custody, yet IHIT says the public is not at risk.
“We are still in a very crucial stage in the investigation,” IHIT spokesperson Cpl. Meghan Foster said Tuesday. “If there was any reason to notify the public of a safety issue we would do so.”
When asked about the reports that the men were at least innocent and probably Good Samaritans, Foster wouldn’t say.
“What I can say is we have multiple investigative theories for which we are still collecting evidence. If there are people in the community that have information they should contact us.”
Foster confirmed that as of Tuesday afternoon, no one was in custody but that IHIT is speaking with “persons of interest,” a term that describes suspects, witnesses, and others who may have information about what happened.
Pressed on why the public is not at risk if Good Samaritans were killed, Foster said it was too early to know the connection, if any, between the assailant(s) and the victims yet that the public should always be cautious.
“We don’t want to go out and alarm people but we don’t want to say it’s not targeted,” Foster said.
The downtown was busy with pedestrians at the time of the incident with the first Party in the Park ending about a half an hour before, but there is no link to the popular downtown event.
Drage’s girlfriend said to honour the deceased man on what would have been his 52nd birthday, she is organizing a candlelight vigil on July 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the park at Five Corners and she wants his friends and people who knew him to attend.
Anyone with information about the incident on July 7 asked to contact the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
See www.theprogress.com for more on the double-murder downtown as details become available.