Bolsa restaurant gang slaying an elaborate murder plan: prosecutor

Article originally appeared in: Calgary Herald
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The New Year’s Day 2009 massacre in which three people were gunned down at a southeast Calgary restaurant was the culmination of an elaborate plan to target one of the victims, a jury was told on Monday.

In her opening address, co-Crown prosecutor Susan Karpa said the accused, 28, was part of the plan and one of the shooters inside the Bolsa Vietnamese eatery that afternoon.

“The Victim was the target. The Victim was in the restaurant and was killed,” Karpa told the eight men and four women on the jury.

“An associate of The Victim who was also in the Bolsa and was also shot and killed.”

Karpa said the third victim, Keni S’ua, 43, was a regular customer who had sat down at a table to enjoy a meal that day and was likely mistaken for Mann, who looked similar, and was shot three times as he fled across the parking lot.

“The Victim did not get to have his meal that day,” said Karpa. “Instead, he was shot and killed as he ran for his life.

“The Victim, when he went there that day, did not know he would get caught in the midst of a planned execution.”

The prosecutor said the theory of the Crown is that Honorio, on trial for three counts of first-degree murder, played an important role in the planning and execution of the triple homicide.

She said The Victim, 22, was associated with a street gang, FK, and was hated by rival groups FOB and 403 Soldiers.

She said an associate, 21, was kidnapped with the intention of getting at the Victim through him, then to kill him.

She said the three men went to the restaurant, with two of them going inside and one remaining outside. All of them, she said, had semi-automatic handguns.

Later, city police Det. Jim Hands showed to the jury video and still pictures he took of the grisly scene, which was akin to a war zone.

The Victim and The Victim2 are seen laying dead in pools of blood on the restaurant floor, surrounded by numerous empty shell casings, metal fragments and bullet holes in the furniture and walls.

He also said The Victim’s bullet-riddled body was found outside in the snow near a sign post, where he fell after being gunned down.

Karpa said she and co-Crown counsel Rajbir Dhillon will call some 30 witnesses regarding their theory why the murders took place, as well aswhat happened before and after the shootings.

She said witnesses will not be able to recognize the alleged killers as they were masked when they fired some 20 rounds at the scene. Three different guns were used, one by each of the killers.

The Victim, she said, was sitting with his girlfriend and another male friend at a table at the back of the restaurant when the gunmen burst inside.

Before they could be served, Karpa added, Bendle walked into the restaurant and immediately a hail of gunshots rang out.

“The Victim was left bleeding on the floor,” she said. “His girlfriend called 911, but he died as she cradled him in her arms.

“The Victim was wearing a bulletproof vest and three bullets were stopped by the vest. One bullet bypassed the vest and killed him. Another person, The Victim2, also lay bleeding on the floor. He was shot twice in the head.”

She said The Victim was shot three times, once in the face and twice in the back.

“The three killers got into their rented getaway car and drove away, leaving three bleeding bodies behind. Police arrived shortly afterward.”

A key witness will be a man who is expected to testify how he helped plan the kidnapping and murders. M.M., who cannot be identified in order to protect him, has been given immunity from charges for his testimony.

“He will tell you about the kidnapping of Mr. Bendle to get to The Victim and the role he played,” said Karpa, “that there were three gunmen.”

Zuccherato, 25, and Roberto, 28, were convicted last October by a different jury of three counts of first-degree murder and were handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The prosecutor said M.M. did not initially tell police everything that occurred that day, but eventually told all in a plea deal.

He admitted he was a former friend of the accused, a member of the 403 Soldiers at the time, and was a former gang member and drug dealer.

Karpa told the jury, as part of the Crown’s case, they will also hear what the accused said. She said two months after the shootings, Honorio met a man named Ray, who claimed he was part of a criminal organization and asked him to join the group. It was a targeted undercover police operation.

Over the next three months, she said, they took part in criminal activity and their friendship grew.

“The accused dropped hints about the New Year’s Day shootings and before the end of their association he told them about his role,” she alleged.

“The accused admitted to be one of the shooters in the restaurant and needed help.”

The scheduled five-week trial before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman continues.