The victim of a murder in Terrace over the weekend is not the menace he is being portrayed to be, says his uncle.
Eric Maurice Cardinal "was a really good person," a tearful Shane Cardinal said Tuesday in response to stories in the media.
Cardinal, 27, was found shot to death in a Terrace home early Saturday afternoon.
A 29-year-old woman was also found at the scene with a gunshot wound and Travis Leslie Stephens, 29, was later arrested and now faces charges of murder and attempted murder.
RCMP have said the incident was drug-related and characterized Cardinal's death as indicative of the lifestyle he led.
His uncle agreed that Cardinal had trouble with drugs and it was a source of frustration.
"I wish he would have smartened up," he said. "Every time you'd talk to him, he'd just say 'I need some time.'"
But he also described his nephew as generous and caring. When Shane Cardinal suffered a serious workplace injury 11 years ago that left him confined to a wheelchair for two years, Eric moved in with the family to help out.
Likewise, when Shane Cardinal's wife had troubles with her last pregnancy and had to be transported to Vancouver, Eric was once again there to pick up the slack, taking care of the couple's other children in particular, as Shane still had no use of his hands.
"He was just there to help me with the suppers, lunches, breakfasts, getting them off to school," he said.
Eric Cardinal had a criminal record - he served 30 days for robbery, 29 days for assault and 14 days for trespassing, all committed in Terrace, according to court records - but his uncle says the short sentences indicate the offences were relatively minor.
And he also noted that while Cardinal was among three men wanted in February for a car that was stolen in Prince George and later found in Calgary, he turned himself into Terrace RCMP rather than being arrested. Charges against him were never pursued.
"He knew he was in trouble when he went on this thing with these guys and they went to Calgary," he said. "I remember talking to his sister and he was scared and they were telling him just to come home and he did and he went back to Terrace and he turned himself in."
Cardinal believes his nephew's troubles began when he came out of a stint working at a camp flush with cash and "he just kind of spiraled out of control there with the drugs."
His nephew was on the verge of earning his blasting ticket by that time but took the wrong path.
"The drugs ain't no good thing, they've got a grip on a lot of people," he said. "But if you take that out of the equation and if you knew the person, he was a really talented kid."