Alan Schmegelsky, father of Bryer Schmegelsky, poses for a photo during an interview with The Canadian Press in Mill Bay B.C. on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. RCMP have said that 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky are suspects in the shooting of Lucas Fowler of Sydney, Australia, his girlfriend Chynna Deese of Charlotte, N.C., and the death of another man who has yet to be identified publicly. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Laura Kane

Alan Schmegelsky, father of Bryer Schmegelsky, poses for a photo during an interview with The Canadian Press in Mill Bay B.C. on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. RCMP have said that 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky are suspects in the shooting of Lucas Fowler of Sydney, Australia, his girlfriend Chynna Deese of Charlotte, N.C., and the death of another man who has yet to be identified publicly. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Laura Kane

B.C. murder suspect not a neo-Nazi, is more fascinated by Russia, dad says

Despite his son’s fascination with the collectibles, Schmegelsky said he didn’t believe his son identified as a neo-Nazi

A murder suspect who allegedly sent photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife to an online friend was not a Nazi sympathizer, but he did think the memorabilia was “cool,” says his father.

RCMP are investigating the photographs, which also show Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, in military fatigues, holding an airsoft rifle and wearing a gas mask. The man is a suspect along with Kam McLeod, 19, in three murders in British Columbia.

Alan Schmegelsky said Thursday that his son took him to an army surplus store about eight months ago in his small Vancouver Island hometown of Port Alberni, where the teen was excited about the Nazi artifacts.

“I was disgusted and dragged him out,” Schmegelsky said. “My grandparents fled the Ukraine with three small children during the Second World War.”

READ MORE: More than a week after 3 killed in northern B.C., suspect teens still at large

The teens are charged with second-degree murder in the death of one man and are suspects in the fatal shootings of a young couple. On Thursday, the manhunt was focused on the thick and boggy forests of northeastern Manitoba.

Despite his son’s fascination with the collectibles, Schmegelsky said he didn’t believe his son identified as a neo-Nazi.

“He thought he was Russian. Germans are their enemies,” he said.

The father, who is estranged from the teen’s mother, explained that he didn’t see his son between the ages of eight and 16, and during that time the boy came under the mistaken belief that he had Russian heritage.

He enjoys watching Russian rap videos, where the artists “wear Adidas and drink vodka,” Schmegelsky said, adding his son is a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States President Donald Trump.

“I argued with him about that, in a friendly manner,” the father said. “He liked strong speakers.”

Schmegelsky said it was possible his son went back to the store later to buy the memorabilia, but it’s also possible he took a photo in the store or it’s staged.

The army surplus store, called Harreson’s Military Store, has since closed and the former owner didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alfred Bergkvist, owner of “A” Company Military Surplus in nearby Coombs, said he purchased all of Harreson’s merchandise, including some Nazi material, when it closed.

Bergkvist said he didn’t recognize the red Nazi armband in the photograph but his store also stocked Hitler Youth knives identical to the one in the picture.

He recalled that two boys came into his store about three weeks ago and bought one of the replica knives that are inscribed with the German words for “blood and honour.”

“They were really excited about it,” he said, adding he didn’t know whether the pair were Schmegelsky and McLeod and he doesn’t have security cameras.

READ MORE: The latest in the hunt for two Port Alberni teens wanted for alleged murder

Schmegelsky allegedly sent the photos to a user of the video-game network Steam. The two suspects most recently logged onto their accounts 13 days ago, about the time they told family they were leaving Port Alberni in search of work.

Schmegelsky’s account shows he frequently played a shooting game called Russia Battlegrounds, and both young men’s Facebook pages were connected to an account called Illusive Gameing, which has a modified Soviet flag as its icon.

Herb Loomba, owner of the Redford Motel in Port Alberni, said the elder Schmegelsky stayed there about once a month while visiting his son, and he last saw the teen with his dad on his graduation day, wearing a nice suit.

Loomba said the news has disturbed everyone in the small, close-knit community.

“Anything happens, it feels like it’s happening in your own home,” he said.

Officers from the western provinces and Ontario were in the Gillam area of northern Manitoba to search for the teenagers on Thursday.

RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said there were two confirmed sightings of the teens before an SUV police believe they had used to drive to Gillam was found burned out on Monday.

“There have been no stolen vehicles in that area,” she said. ”At this point in the investigation, we believe they are still in the area.”

The terrain is unforgiving, Courchaine said.

“There’s lots of dense bush, forest, swampy area, so it is very challenging,” she said.

Courchaine said more than 80 tips had come in over the last 40 hours alone.

RCMP have been asking people not to approach Schmegelsky and McLeod if they see them and to call police instead.

To the north, the mayor of Churchill — a community accessible only by rail, sea and air — warned residents to be on the lookout.

“We should all remain vigilant and report any and all suspicious activity directly to the RCMP,” Mike Spence said in a statement.

Police charged the two young men Wednesday in the death of University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck, whose body was found July 19 near their burned-out truck in northwestern B.C.

The bodies of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese were found four days earlier along a highway more than 450 kilometres from where Dyck was discovered.

— With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Storm clouds gathered in Mulhurst, Alta., just before noon June 15, 2021. Photo/ Dan Moster.
Areas of County of Wetaskiwin remain under severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for areas of the County.

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read