One of three Prince George men charged in connection to a brazen daylight drive-by shooting and high-speed police chase on Oct. 8, 2020, was sentenced to a total of eight years in jail – less two years for time served – on Friday.
Bradley Andre Ouelette plead guilty to two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm, obstructing a police office and a number of offences related to the authorized possession of a firearm. Ouelette has a criminal record and was prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the attack. In addition to the jail time, he received a lifetime prohibition on owning firearms and other weapons.
“Mr. Ouelette engaged in a planned drive-by shooting. He then shot at an occupied police vehicle,” the Crown prosecutor told the court. “It is difficult to overstate how serious these offences are.”
According to an agreed statement of facts read into the record by the Crown, Ouelette and his two co-accused - Eric Vern West and Kenneth Ricardo Munroe – set out in a silver Chevrolet Malibu to shoot at the home of a rival gang member in the 200-block of Bellos Street.
According to the agreed statement of facts, West was driving and Munroe was in the front passenger seat with a sawed-off shotgun. Ouelette was in the backseat of the car with a loaded shotgun.
The home has been shot at in two separate incidents on Sept. 21 and just after midnight on Oct. 8, however there is no evidence Ouelette was involved in those shootings, the Crown prosecutor told the court.
Around 11:37 a.m. they trio pulled up by the home and Ouelette fired two shots at the house. Shotgun pellets were found embedded in the window frame of the home, but nobody was injured.
As the car drove away, an RCMP officer spotted them, because they seemed suspicious and turned his cruiser around to follow them, the Crown lawyer said. The driver of the Malibu took off “at a high rate of speed” down Fifth Avenue.
A police chase ensued, as the Malibu dodged around traffic and turned onto Highway 97, the Crown lawyer told the court. A second officer took over the pursuit, which turned down 10th Avenue.
The Malibu hit the curb and crashed through the front yard fence of a home on McBride Crescent. Ouelette, Munroe and West bailed out of the vehicle as a police cruiser pulled up.
Ouelette fired his shotgun at the police cruiser, and birdshot pellets were found embedded in the cruiser’s windshield. The officer wasn’t injured.
Ouelette dropped the gun and ran. Eventually all three were caught by police, the Crown lawyer told the court.
Ouelette initially denied involvement in the shooting, saying he was doing drugs in the bushes when the officers found him, which is why he ran. He also wrote a letter to the RCMP saying it was a different, well-known local criminal who was involved and asked his co-accused to “take the fall” for him.
But in a recorded phone call from jail to his then-girlfriend, he admitted to shooting at the Bellos Street house and the police.
“He laughed about it,” the Crown lawyer said. “He said he was surprised he wasn’t shot for shooting at the police.”
The Bellos Street shooting was roughly 200 metres from Heritage Elementary School and when Ouelette fired at the occupied police cruiser, it was only a block away from the Duchess Park playground, the Crown lawyer said.
Ouelette’s lawyer said Ouelette is Indigenous, had an abusive, neglected upbringing, and ended up living out on his own at the age of 15. He was 31 years old at the time of the shooting.
“He had what can only be described as a horrible upbringing,” his lawyer said.
There are indications that Ouelette suffers from undiagnosed bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, his lawyer added, and he was addicted to methamphetamine at the time of the incident.
“He was under the influence of methamphetamine when these offences occurred,” his lawyer said.
Ouelette had been working as an ironworker, but was laid off in 2019, his lawyer said. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, he became severely depressed and began using meth.
“I am very sorry for what I did,” Ouellette said told the court. “I understand it endangered a lot of people, other than the intended people.”
Ouelette has been in custody since his arrest and spent 484 days in jail before being sentenced.
He is the first of three men accused in the incident to be sentenced. Munroe is scheduled to be sentenced later this month, and a trial for West is scheduled later this year.