Police turned back traffic at the Borden Creek bridge in the Chilliwack River Valley on March 25, 2017 after a bizarre string of shootings culminating in an arrest of Peter Anthony Kampos. A BC Supreme Court justice declared Kampos unfit to stand trial due to mental illness on Dec. 4, 2018. (Greg Laychak/ Black Press)

Police turned back traffic at the Borden Creek bridge in the Chilliwack River Valley on March 25, 2017 after a bizarre string of shootings culminating in an arrest of Peter Anthony Kampos. A BC Supreme Court justice declared Kampos unfit to stand trial due to mental illness on Dec. 4, 2018. (Greg Laychak/ Black Press)

Man charged with attempted murder in Chilliwack River Valley deemed mentally unfit

Father says son has schizophrenia; Law professor say too many with mental illness in jail

Peter Anthony Kampos believes that Earth is being attacked by aliens, that he can recognize those aliens in human form, and it’s his duty to eliminate them.

That’s according to his extremely concerned father Vaclav Kampos who attended part of his son’s trial for attempted murder.

“In his mind the noble and necessary thing to do is to save the people and the Earth from them,” Vaclav wrote in a letter he handed to The Progress.

Peter Anthony Kampos

In the middle of his jury trial in October, Peter Kampos’s lawyer Mark Swartz finally told the court he, too, was concerned about his client’s mental state. Kampos apparently spoke of a conspiracy to find him guilty, he suggested there has been tampering of evidence and collusion.

• READ MORE: Attempted murder in Chilliwack River Valley goes to trial

• READ MORE: Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

A court-appointed psychiatrist found that Kampos had mental health issues but did not find him unfit to stand trial. A second psychiatrist brought in by the Crown came to a different conclusion, and after a fitness hearing in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster last week, Justice Martha Devlin declared him unfit.

The charges stem from a shooting incident in the Chilliwack River Valley on March 25, 2017. That day Cameron Rose was shot while sitting in his car on the side of Chilliwack Lake Road. He was hit in the right shoulder but managed to escape the scene, racing down the road and stumbling across a military training exercise where he was helped.

Kampos is no longer at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre and is now housed at Colony Farm forensic psychiatric hospital. There he can be forced to undergo treatment for his condition, which his father says includes schizophrenia, and the Review Board has 60 days to review the finding of unfit to stand trial.

If he is ever deemed fit, the trial will either continue from where it left off or a new trial could be ordered.

What did not come up at trial is that there was also an alleged shooting spree over a 14-hour period at commercial vehicles one day before the Chilliwack River Valley incident in various communities between Terrace and the Lower Mainland. In those shootings, a blue Dodge Caliber with Ontario licence plates was reported being seen, a vehicle with the same description as the Rose shooting in the Chilliwack River Valley the next day.

Crown did not have enough evidence to proceed on charges related to those shootings.

The fact that Kampos was eventually found unfit to stand trial is one that may never have happened if his lawyer didn’t change course and bring it up mid-trial.

And it’s a finding that all-too often is overlooked, leading to too many people with mental health issues to be sent to jail rather than to receive treatment, according to Isabel Grant, a law professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC.

“A lot of people with mental illness are going to jail in this country,” Grant said in an interview back in October during the trial. “More people are going to jail than to the forensic system.”

Grant said that because the issue of mental fitness can only be raised by the defence “it doesn’t get raised very often at all.”

She brought up the example of Vince Li who beheaded Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008. Li was found not criminally responsible because of a mental illness, and there was evidence that before the incident he presented himself to a psychiatric hospital but was turned away.

“That’s the abysmal failure of our system,” she said. “It’s a really tragic situation.”

Grant made those comments before Kampos’s lawyer asked for the mental fitness hearing, and while it looked like it wouldn’t happen.

“I feel for the father and the victim,” she said. “Our mental health system does not serve everybody well.”

Vaclav Kampos became visibly emotional in courtroom 201 at the Chilliwack Law Courts in October when Justice Devlin did order that mental fitness assessment for his son.

In his letter, Vaclav said he knows his words will make his son hate him but that he knows Peter is a danger to himself, his family and the public.

“I’m doing this for my love of Peter and hoping that eventually he will understand,” Vaclav wrote. “I want to take this opportunity to apologize for Peter to all the people Peter caused harm to, especially to the unfortunate man he nearly killed, and my hope is that Peter by himself will come and apologize to him personally when he understands.”

Vaclav pointed to what he calls the injustice in the Canadian system that stems from our freedoms, freedoms that even flow to people with serious mental illness. Having grown up in communist Czechoslovakia, Vaclav expressed dismay in the Canadian system that he was not detained because of his mental illness before he committed his crimes.

Previously diagnosed as schizophrenic at a Kamloops hospital, Peter was then released with a drug prescription.

“The doctor treating him there told me over the phone upon Peter’s unexpected release, that if Peter will stop his hospital medications his condition will worse.”

“My son Peter at present cannot be let go free…. If he is not cured and shows understanding about what happened to him than he cannot be let go free.

“I’m ending this letter in hope that this story will in some way promote discussion of law professionals about mental illness and the law approach to the matter.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read