Shooter sentenced to prison time

A Prince George man was sentenced Monday to a further 2 1/2 years in prison for shooting an adversary during a confrontation in the parking lot of a local apartment building.

Originally charged with attempted murder, Jamie Wade Fatum, 24, was issued the term in B.C. Supreme Court after he pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm for the April 29, 2016 incident near 17th and Upland.

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Fatum and the victim of the shooting, Robert Cassell, knew each other through the local drug scene and Fatum had suspected Cassell had stolen a firearm he owned as well as a television that belonged to a friend of his. While driving, the two spotted Cassell's car turning into the parking area and followed him in.

When Cassell attempted to drive away, Fatum used his car to hem him in and their vehicles eventually came nose to nose. Just before he got out of his car, Fatum grabbed a loaded .22-calibre semiautomatic rifle he had been using for target shooting earlier in the day at a local gravel pit.

As he stood behind the open driver's door of his car, he confronted Cassell about the items asking him where his gun was. Cassell laughed and then sped towards him and, in a panic, Fatum lurched out of the way, pulling the door with one hand and swinging the rifle up with the other. Fatum intended to let off just one shot, the court was told, but because the rifle is a semiautomatic, he fired off three.

At least two of the bullets hit Cassell. One of them lodged near his spine and surgeons decided not to risk removing it while another shattered a rib. Cassell also suffered wounds to his left flank, right upper arm and left bicep. Two other people who were in Cassell's car escaped injury.

Fatum jumped back into his car, telling his friend that Cassell had almost hit him. They left the scene and drove to the Seymour neighbourhood park, about a kilometre away, where Fatum ditched the gun. His friend then dropped Fatum off at his 7500-block Loyola Place home and drove to a convenience store on Highway 16 East, left the car there and called a friend to pick her up.

All this happened shortly after midnight and by 3 a.m., RCMP, who had been called to the scene of the shooting, arrested the friend and the friend at a 1300-block Blackburn Road home, a suspected drug house where the three had crossed paths.

Facing a charge of attempted murder, the friend told police what happened and Fatum was eventually arrested and the gun, with a bullet still in the chamber and several still in the magazine and the safety off, was retrieved from the park.

In all, Fatum was sentenced to four years, the mandatory minimum for the offence, less 510 days credit for time served prior to sentencing, meaning he has 905 days left. The sentence was issued as a joint submission from Crown and defence counsels.

According to a victim impact statement, Cassell continues to have trouble sitting for more than an hour at a time, cannot drive and needs medication to deal with the pain. It was fortunate Cassell was not killed, Justice Ron Tindale remarked.

However, he also noted Fatum, who has had ongoing troubles with mental health and drug addiction issues, has no previous criminal record, has worked to rehabilitate himself and noted he has strong support. With his parents and fiance sitting the courtroom gallery, Fatum gave a tearful apology for his actions.

Cassell is also in prison. He was sentenced in November to a further three years and two months for aggravated assault for a separate incident.

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