What drew Yannick Joseph Alexandre Bandaogo to North Vancouver and what motivated him to go on a stabbing spree March 27, 2021, during a used book sale at the Lynn Valley Library?
Answers were anticipated at a three-day sentencing hearing that began July 5 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
On May 29, Bandaogo pleaded guilty as charged to second degree murder of a woman whose identity is protected by a judge’s order. Bandaogo also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder five other people and one count of aggravated assault against another.
A 25-year sentence is automatic for second degree murder. The court will hear from lawyers for the Crown and Bandaogo’s defence, about how many years the 30-year-old should serve in jail before becoming eligible for parole. The minimum is 10.
Court will also hear the words of witnesses and victims, about how the horror that unfolded in an otherwise peaceful place on that Saturday harmed them physically and mentally.
Bandaogo is originally from Cote d’Ivoire in Africa. He appeared in a YouTube video from 2012 set in a Longeuil, Que. boxing gym called Techno Boxe. In spring 2021, he was wanted for arrest in Quebec and Manitoba.
B.C. court files since March 27, 2021 show he was guilty of assaulting peace officers in May 2021 and May 2022 in Port Coquitlam and Oliver jails, respectively.
One of the many hoping for answers is an area resident who witnessed a man identical to Bandaogo five days earlier, sleeping in the mid-afternoon sunshine, beside the lane at the back of Lynn Valley Village.
“I tend to photograph everything I see, and it seemed unusual so I took a photo,” said Paul Bullen. “His pillow was a pizza box, which I later confirmed was from pizza he bought from the pizza place inside the Lynn Valley Centre.”
The shadowy area to the right of Bullen’s photograph is the passageway that leads to the public square and, ultimately, Lynn Valley Library.
Bullen is a self-described “street photographer” who used to sneak his camera and telephoto lens into Bob Dylan concerts when he was younger. Now he uses an iPhone, which is always with him.
On March 22, 2021, Bullen was walking with a friend near the lane between Lynn Valley Centre and Lynn Valley Village, when he saw something out of the ordinary for Lynn Valley.
“We know that he was sleeping, lying on the ground sleeping near that place where he ultimately went nuts,” Bullen said. “So, to the extent that that’s of any interest, it’s not going to bring anyone back to life or figure out who the criminal was. But it is of some interest.”
Some interest that could spur a community discussion about services for those without a roof or needing other types of emergency assistance.
Bullen, who has a doctorate in political science and a teaching career at universities and colleges in the U.S., said that day had a “sociological effect” on Lynn Valley.
The community was wounded emotionally, desperate for ways to heal. It also sought ways to support the victims of March 27, 2021.
A floral shrine appeared overnight and it got bigger by the hour. The community was already reeling from the pandemic, which claimed its first Canadian victim at the Lynn Valley Care Centre just over a year earlier. Three days after Bandaogo’s crime, an arsonist torched the Lynn Valley Masonic Hall.
GoFundMe campaigns raised more than $400,000 for victims. The community came together in a socially distant fashion. More than 1,000 vehicles joined an emotional drive-thru candlelight vigil procession on April 3, 2021 through Lynn Canyon Park.
The makeshift memorial at Lynn Valley Village is long gone.
Near the Lynn Valley Road pathway, a faded white decal with the #Lynnvalleystrong hashtag remains on the side of a silver planter. The letter-g is missing, beside the red outline of a heart.
On the opposite side, a rock painted blue and green, with “LV Strong” in white, beneath a planted tree.
But, to the left, a wooden bench, where shiny gold characters on a black plaque read simply: “Lynn Valley Remembers March 27, 2021.”
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