Calgarian guilty of murder in 'swift, brutal and purposeful' attack on Nigerian nursing student

·2 min read
Keeton Michel Gagnon has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Nicolas Nwonye, 46.  (David Bell/CBC - image credit)
Keeton Michel Gagnon has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Nicolas Nwonye, 46. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)

The Calgary man who killed a Nigerian nursing student in a random, unprovoked knife attack on a CTrain platform has been convicted of second-degree murder.

Keeton Gagnon, 43, was found guilty Thursday in what Court of Queen's Bench Justice Michele Hollins described as the "swift, brutal and purposeful" murder of Nicholas Nwonye.

On June 2, 2017, Nwonye had finished his nursing classes at Bow Valley College and was waiting for the CTrain on the City Hall platform when Gagnon tapped him on the shoulder.

When Nwonye turned, Gagnon stabbed him three times, once through the heart.

Gagnon then walked away, crossed the street and boarded a train, where he was ultimately arrested.

The only issue at trial was whether Gagnon was guilty of manslaughter or murder.

Hollins ruled what Gagnon did to Nwonye "was not an accident."

Submitted by Ugonna Nwonye
Submitted by Ugonna Nwonye

Nwonye left behind 3 children and a wife

Nwonye, 46, had left his job as an engineer in Nigeria 18-months earlier to bring his family to Canada.

When he had a hard time finding engineering work in Calgary during the downturn, he went back to school to become a nurse so that he could provide for the family.

He was working two jobs to support his wife and three children, including an infant, while taking courses at Bow Valley College.

Months before the fatal attack, Gagnon had been released from his third prison stint. He had been serving a three-year sentence for assault with a weapon.

Gagnon has a criminal history with police in British Columbia dating back two decades. He is a career criminal with dozens of convictions, including assault with a weapon, robbery, escaping custody and many breaches.

A Gladue report, which examines an Indigenous offender's upbringing, has been ordered.

A date for sentencing will be set in November, after the report has been prepared.

A second-degree murder conviction comes with a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.

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