Vancouver apartment stabbing suspect’s friends, family standing by him

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew
Jerome Bonneric appeared in court four days after a frightening rampage of violence

Whatever Jerome Bonneric's story turns out to be, the man accused of going on a stabbing rampage in a Vancouver apartment building apparently is not getting a psychiatric assessment before his case proceeds.

Bonneric faces more than a dozen charges ranging from aggravated assault to assaulting a police officer after residents of the West End apartment were terrorized by a man reportedly wielding a knife and a hammer.

Eight people were injured, with one woman suffering life-threatening wounds, police said. The seemingly random attack shocked residents of Vancouver, who've become somewhat accustomed to gang-related street violence.

Bonneric's lawyer, Robert Bellows, said he'd expected the Crown to request a psychiatric assessment at his client's provincial court appearance Thursday. But it never came and the judge didn't order one, Bellows told the Vancouver Sun.

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Such evaluations are usually ordered to determine if someone is fit to stand trial, not necessarily whether a mental issue was behind the crime. But Bellows told the Sun that's what happened.

“It was a terrible mental breakdown,” he said. “It was absolutely out of character for him."

Bonneric's friends support that assessment, said Bellows. The French-born resident of Canada was described as charming, sociable and funny, the Globe and Mail reported.

“His friends are standing by him and they care deeply for him,” the lawyer said. “His parents care deeply for him. They’ve been in contact with him. He’s had a phone call to his mom and dad in France.”

Bonneric came to Canada a few years ago by way of Los Angeles, according to the Globe. A Facebook page under his name (which appears now to have been taken down) said he had a background in real estate consulting and a LinkedIn profile said he worked for a Vancouver-area French bakery, The Canadian Press reported.

[ Related: Vancouver stabbing suspect supported by friends ]

He reportedly quit his job at the bakery two months ago, the Sun said.

“He seemed like a very nice guy," said bakery manager Olivier Audibert. "We don’t understand what happened.”

Bonneric visited St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver a few days before the attack. Hospital officials would not discuss the visit for privacy reasons but told the Globe patients are given an initial assessment by a psychiatric nurse and emergency physician and, if necessary a more in-depth assessment by the hospital's psychiatry department. Patients are held for treatment if their behaviour indicates they might harm themselves or others.

Bonneric was thought to be staying with a woman living in the apartment building.

The Sun said police described the attacks on the evening of Jan. 31 as "very vicious." The attacker stormed through the building's halls and into suites, spattering the walls with blood.

[ Related: Vancouver stabbing spree suspect had mental health issues ]

Bonneric's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 27. The judge still could decide then if a psychiatric assessment is warranted.