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'That gang is going to kill me': Man involved in B.C. gas station attack feared Hells Angels

Leslie Dale Chudek found guilty as defence seeks not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder ruling.

A B.C. man has been found guilty on assault and threat charges for a June 2022 attack at a gas station where he threatened to kill people and told them the Hells Angels wanted to kill him.

The events horrified Vancouver as part of a series of stranger attacks in the city.

Leslie Dale Chudek was charged with aggravated assault, assault, uttering threats and dangerous vehicle operation.

His trial before Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Andrea Brownstone began Feb. 14 with Crown prosecutor Phillip Sebellin and defence lawyer Kristy Neurauter presenting an agreed statement of facts.

Neurauter then asked Brownstone to find Chudek guilty but not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

That led to testimony from two psychiatrists Feb. 14-15.

The events

The statement of facts said Chudek’s involvement with police had begun the previous evening when he was found holding a sign saying, “goodbye Les Chudek” and something about the Hells Angels. He said he was sleeping in his Dodge minivan.

When police arrived, Chudek told them the Hells Angels were after him, preventing him from buying gas at service stations.

About three hours later, early on the morning of June 1, police received reports of the vehicle running red lights in Port Coquitlam.

Half an hour later, Burnaby RCMP attempted to stop the vehicle near Canada Way.

Soon, it was reported that the vehicle was on Vancouver’s East Hastings driving with no tire on one wheel, leaving a trail of debris as the vehicle ran on the rim.

As those events were unfolding, a man went into a 7-Eleven at the Esso station at Hastings and Skeena.

Almost immediately, he was struck by a red minivan. Videos played for the court showed the man being thrown in the air and crumpling to the ground.

Chudek got out of his vehicle carrying two weapons: a knife and a tree-pruning saw.

Police had initially reported the saw was a machete.

Sebellin said a number of witnesses described Chudek as dazed, distressed and agitated.

He yelled at the man on the ground, “this is what happens when you try you kill my grandkids.”

That man was stabbed at one point, the court heard.

In hospital, the man was treated for a stab wound to his back and a couple of fractures, one which required surgery.

Pruning saw

The court heard Chudek moved toward one bystander and struck him on the head with the pruning saw.

“’I’m going to kill you because that gang is going to kill me anyway,’” Sebellin quoted Chudek as saying.

A chase captured on video soon took place around the gas station, with people scattering in all directions.

Sirens could be heard as Chudek wandered around the gas station before he got onto a motorcycle and tried to start it.

Police approached him with firearms drawn.

Chudek dropped to the ground and was cuffed.

He told officers his wife and daughter had been killed by Hells Angels.

However, Sebellin said, Chudek had spoken to his daughter the day before saying the Hells Angels were going to attack him. A week before, he had told her the police were after him.

Sebellin also played a video of two police officers interviewing Chudek who, for the most part, refused to speak with them without a lawyer.

The psychiatrists

Dr. Robert Lacroix, a psychiatrist at the B.C. Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and at UBC, told the judge he had diagnosed Chudek as having been in a psychotic state marked by persecutory delusions that took over his thinking.

Lacroix said the disorder is marked by fixed ideas that are not susceptible to reason or logic.

The doctor testified Chudek had been exhibiting such symptoms for some time.

“All this behaviour and activity in this time period was to save his life,” Lacroix said. “There was intense pressure from these delusional beliefs to save himself.”

Even as Lacroix testified, Chudek would give an occasional thumbs up to testimony, including when the doctor testified that Chudek had incorporated the crash victim into the delusions.

Since then, Lacroix said, Chudek has incorporated correctional staff and other inmates into the delusions.

Chudek nodded.

“He retained the capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of what he did,” Lacroix said. “He did not know his actions were wrong.”

Lacroix said Chudek lacked the capacity to make rational decisions when it came to dealing with perceived threats.

“There was no reality-based threat to him,” Lacroix said. “He was acting simply to preserve his life.”

In June 2022, Crown prosecutor Karen Haughton said reports from doctors indicated Chudek was mentally fit to stand trial.

The incident was one of multiple stranger attacks that happened in Vancouver.