A tragic scene played out in the small community of Popkum Thursday evening, that began with a standoff and ended with an explosion.
Police set up a 150 metre perimeter around a home on Llanberris Way, near the former site of Minter Gardens east of Chilliwack. At about 5 p.m., multiple police units closed off the street, which is filled with beautiful homes, and manicured lawns.
The Integrated Homicide Investigative Team (IHIT) has confirmed there are multiple victims – including the prime suspect – and that they are all from one family.
No names are being released by police. However, it is believed the suspect was Randy Janzen and the victims are his wife, Laurel, his daughter Emily and sister Shelly.
The Chilliwack School of Performing Arts posted the following on its Facebook page Friday morning: “Today we celebrate the incomparable Emily Janzen. A former student and instructor, forever a part of our CSOPA family. We will fondly remember her bright smile, beautiful voice and amazing spirit. She will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to all her family and friends.”
According to IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Stephanie Ashton, police are dealing with two crime scenes.
“Just after 3 p.m. on May 7, Langley RCMP received information obtained through social media that indicated an Agassiz man had harmed his family members,” she said. “As a result of this information, Langley RCMP attended an Aldergrove residence and located a deceased individual in the home.”
Further information received through social media indicated there was a potential second location of concern in the Rosedale Popkum area.
RCMP went to a home in the 10,000 block of Llanberis Way and, with the assistance of the emergency response team, attempted to make contact with a man believed to be inside the residence.
Gunfire had been reported early on in the evening. While the house was surrounded, neighbours arriving home were kept a fair distance away, at about 150 metres. Those in neighbouring homes were told to stay indoors, while dozens of people gathered around the perimeter.
An assault vehicle arrived, and quickly offloaded several responders before driving up a driveway.
There were five distinctive shots, coming about a minute apart, at about 7 p.m. A K9 unit arrived and police and ERT members moved around the property swiftly.
And then, the house exploded with what at first sounded like a shotgun. Seconds later, black smoke swirled from the home, which is on the west side of Llanberris Way, and several houses down. Local firefighters responded quickly to the fire, which quickly engulfed the home. Some of the people watching from Yale Road were in contact with family members in homes that were locked down, ensuring they were still safe. Others expressed concern for the neighbouring homes, in what is a fairly built up street surrounded by plenty of trees that could help spread flames.
“Emergency Response Team members entered the scene to determine if there were people inside, to try and save lives,” said Ashton. “They did actually have to leave and weren’t able to do a complete sweep of the residence. We are currently in the process of getting access to the residence so we can determine how many people are inside and who those people are.
At this time IHIT has taken custody of this investigation and are making all attempts to confirm the identity of the victims. Until the identity is confirmed the names will not be released.
“At this point we haven’t even had the opportunity to enter the crime scene to determine how many victims we have,” Ashton said. “Once we have a chance to move into the area where the fire took place we should have more information.”
Watch www.theprogress.com for more information as it becomes available.