Accused in 1st-degree murder trial called 911 to report his whereabouts, court hears

Gamdur Brar sits in the back of a police vehicle on May 7, 2021 after being placed under arrest for murder and attempted murder.  (RCMP/Court exhibit - image credit)
Gamdur Brar sits in the back of a police vehicle on May 7, 2021 after being placed under arrest for murder and attempted murder. (RCMP/Court exhibit - image credit)

A Sherwood Park funeral home owner called 911 and told the dispatcher where he was following an early morning shooting that killed a relative and injured his wife, court heard.

Gamdur Brar is on trial for the first-degree murder of his wife's 19-year-old nephew Harmanjot Bhattal, and the attempted murder of his wife Satvir Brar.

Gamdur Brar, 45, has pleaded not guilty to both counts.

Prosecutors have alleged that Satvir Brar fled her Strathcona County family home May 7, 2021 and enlisted her nephew to help her get away.

In the Crown's opening statement, prosecutor Photini Papadatou told court that it's the prosecution's position that "something happened" in the Brar house that triggered the series of events that led up to the shooting.

Over the first few days of trial, prosecutors called witnesses who testified to seeing a car chase and shoot-out in the early hours of that day on Baseline Road in Sherwood Park.

Witnesses told court about seeing a man shoot another at close range and then chase a woman who was running away screaming.

In a voir dire – a trial within a trial – on Friday, Court of King's Bench Justice Steve Hillier ruled that a recording of a 911 call made by Gamdur Brar following the shooting was admissible.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh had challenged the call being made an exhibit on the grounds that the call wasn't made voluntarily.

According to an agreed statement of facts entered earlier during the trial, the Brars co-owned Park Place Funeral Home in Sherwood Park.

In the recording, Gamdur Brar identifies himself.

"My name is Gamdur Brar, you guys probably ... like I know I was in the incident there in Clover Bar Road. So I am in the funeral home," he told the dispatcher, who asked how he knows about the incident.

"I don't want to say anything right now," he replied.

He also told the dispatcher he was unarmed, safe and by himself. He said he needed five minutes and then would be out.

Officers were dispatched and arrived at the funeral home minutes later.

RCMP dashcam footage played in court captures police arrival at Park Place Funeral Home.

The door is locked, and officers wait outside until Brar emerges wearing a red polo shirt and jeans. He doesn't resist as he's handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle.

Another video recorded inside the RCMP vehicle shows Gamdur Brar sitting in the backseat, staring out the window, as an officer tells him he's being arrested for murder and other charges.

"Do you understand?" the officer asks.

"Yes," Brar replies softly.

The officer asks if he'd like to call a lawyer.

"I want to but I need some time," Gamdur Brar replies.

Accused reported wife missing

The call reporting his whereabouts wasn't the only 911 call the accused made that day.

Shortly after 3:30 a.m. on the day of the incident, he called 911 to report Satvir Brar missing.

"I can't find my wife anywhere. It's unusual," he told the dispatcher in a recording of the call that was played in court Friday.

He said he fell asleep early in the evening while she was out of the house with their two sons.

Later, six RCMP officers arrived at his home and search the property. In a recorded statement he gives to one of the officers, he said he woke up at 2:30 a.m. and his wife was missing.

RCMP/Court exhibit
RCMP/Court exhibit

He said both her phones were still in the house even though she always keeps them with her, and that none of their cars were missing.

He reported that he's checked the house, their whole property, their workplace and called hospitals to no avail.

According to an agreed statement of facts entered with the court about the missing persons report, the RCMP learned that Satvir Brar and her nephew had tried to check into a hotel at 12:30 a.m. but Bhattal's credit card was denied, which is when they went to Satvir Brar's sister-in-law's home.

At some point, one of the Brars' sons told police his mother was at his aunt's house. Police spoke with her on the phone at 5:43 a.m., but she didn't express any concern for her safety.

Officers told Gamdur Brar that his wife was with his sister. As officers left, the husband stood in his driveway next to his black BMW and told police he wanted to have his car ready in case his wife returned.

He was still standing there as officers drove away at 5:55 a.m.

Earlier in the trial, court heard 911 calls about the shooting on Baseline Road started coming in shortly before 6:30 a.m.

The judge-alone trial is expected to continue Monday.