Enforcer blamed in crack-shack shooting

'I was sitting there talking and apparently said something out of line'

A Crown prosecutor alleged Wednesday that an enforcer tried to strong-arm drug users in a downtown apartment into purchasing crack only from him.

But when one of the people in the crack shack - victim Arthur Burley - stood up to confront the drug dealer, he was shot through his shoulder.

Brandon Schell is charged with extortion, firing a prohibited weapon and aggravated assault. His co-accused, Trevor Taylor, pleaded guilty Tuesday to obstruction of justice.

Prosecutor Don Mann told B.C. Supreme Court the events occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 5 last year at an apartment at 352 Seymour St.

The prosecutor said two men, known by the monikers "Cheddar" and "Trey" entered the apartment and pressured drug users gathered there into purchasing only from them.

The Crown alleges Cheddar is Brandon Schell. Proving identity of the shooter is expected to be an issue during the trial, scheduled to last about two weeks.

"I was sitting there talking and apparently said something out of line," Burley testified.

"I believe I said 'I called you an asshole.'"

That's when Burley said he walked toward the man, who then held a handgun above his shoulder, tilted sideways "gangster style."

Burley challenged him to use the gun.

"There was a loud pop, almost a bang. To be honest, I didn't know I'd been shot," he told the judge.

Burley said the two men quickly left. He also left the apartment. It was only when he was standing on the street that he felt something warm around his ankle - blooding pooling on his foot - that he realized he'd been shot.

He was taken to hospital by passersby.

Burley - who testified he'd drank five or six beers as well as taken pain medication with codeine before arriving at the apartment - provided little description, telling the court he cannot identify the shooter today.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Sheldon Tate, Burley said he understood some of the people in the room were crack users. He did not use the drug.

Burley also admitted lying to police when he was in hospital, saying he made up a story so his friends wouldn't be kicked out of their apartment.

"I didn't want this stuff going down my friends' necks. I don't know who shot me," he said.

The victim also acknowledged telling a prosecutor earlier that after being shot, and still inside the apartment, he'd stuck his finger in the hole where the bullet passed through.

The trial is expected to continue Thursday.

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