Canada police: 2 teen fugitives took their own lives

Kam McLeod, 19 and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, suspects in the murder of an Australian tourist and his American girlfriend in northern British Columbia, and charged with the second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck, are seen in a combination of still images from undated CCTV taken in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) July 26, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 August 2019

Canada police: 2 teen fugitives took their own lives

  • Police were investigating photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife that Schmegelsky allegedly sent online to a friend on the video-game network Steam

TORONTO: Canadian police said Monday they believe two teenage fugitives suspected of killing a North Carolina woman, her Australian boyfriend and another man took their own lives amid a nationwide manhunt.
The Manitoba Medical Examiner completed the autopsies and confirmed that two bodies found last week in dense bush in northern Manitoba province were indeed 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky. A police statement said they appeared to die by suicide.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer whose body was found July 19 along a highway in British Columbia.
They were also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where Dyck was killed. The couple had met at a hostel in Croatia and their romance blossomed as they adventured across the US, Mexico, Peru and elsewhere, the woman’s older brother said.
A manhunt for the teenage suspects had spread across three provinces and involved the Canadian military. The suspects had not been seen since July 22, and their bodies were found near Gillam, Manitoba — more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from northern British Columbia.
Police said in a statement McLeod and Schmegelsky were dead for a number of days before they were found, but said there were strong indications they had been alive for a few days after they were last seen. Two guns were located, and authorities are working to definitively confirm that the firearms are connected to the murders in British Columbia.
The British Columbia Prosecution Service said criminal charges don’t move forward if the person who has been accused is proven dead.
Police said items that were found on the shoreline of the Nelson River proved key in helping locate the suspects. Specialized teams began searching high-probability areas nearby, and on Wednesday morning, the two bodies were found within 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) of the objects.
The deaths of the three victims had shaken rural northern British Columbia and Manitoba.
Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said last month that he expected the nationwide manhunt to end in the death of his son, who he said was on “a suicide mission.”
McLeod and Schmegelsky grew up on Vancouver Island and worked together at a local Walmart before they set off on what their parents thought was a trip to Yukon for work.
They were originally considered missing persons and only became suspects later.
Police were investigating photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife that Schmegelsky allegedly sent online to a friend on the video-game network Steam.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son took him to an army surplus store about eight months ago in his small Vancouver Island hometown of Port Alberni, where his son was excited about the Nazi artifacts.


Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

Updated 15 December 2019

Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

  • MCB warning comes after Johnson’s landslide election result
  • UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons   

LONDON: There is a “palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities” in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has warned, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a crushing victory in the 2019 general election.
“We entered the election campaign period with longstanding concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is ‘oven-ready’ for government. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons,” the MCB’s Secretary-General Harun Khan said. 
The warning came as accusations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party continue to plague it.
Despite concern that Islamophobia is “oven-ready” for government, a record number of Muslim MPs were elected on Thursday, with 19 winning seats in the general election; an increase of four from the last election in 2017.
Of these, 15 belong to the Labour Party and the other four, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, are Conservatives. 
As the UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons, this trend was also seen in the number of Muslim women, with 10 winning seats. 
Despite this, Muslims are still not proportionally represented in parliament.
Only 3 percent of the UK’s 650 MPs are Muslim, whilst the country’s Muslim population stands at around 5 percent.
The MCB’s concerns about bigotry and Islamophobia were echoed on Thursday by ex-party chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet member.
Warsi said the Conservative Party “must start healing its relationship with British Muslims,” and the fact that her colleagues in the party had retweeted comments from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins was “deeply disturbing.” 
She added: “An independent inquiry into Islamophobia is a must — the battle to root out racism must now intensify.”
The Tory peer has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in November that the party had a “deep problem” with Islamophobia. 
“Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party … the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia.”

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi (L) attend a general election campaign event in Bolton, Britain December 10, 2019. (Reuters)


Later in November, Johnson apologized for the “hurt and offence” that had been caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and said that an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” would begin by Christmas. 
Despite apologizing, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab in his Daily Telegraph column in August 2018, when he wrote that Muslim women wearing it “look like letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
Fourteen party members were suspended in March after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, and a member who had previously been suspended in 2015 for comments on social media was due to stand in local elections this year. 
Peter Lamb was readmitted to the party after he had served a suspension and apologized for his comments.
Lamb, who has since quit the party, tweeted in 2015: “Islam (is) like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
Yasmin Qureshi, a female Muslim Labour MP, has held her Bolton South East seat since 2010 and was re-elected on Thursday for the fourth time.
Speaking to Arab News, Qureshi said many Muslims were “very fearful and very disappointed” at Johnson’s victory.
“Generally, you can say whatever you want about Muslims in this country now and nobody is really bothered, nobody challenges it, and if it is challenged, it is very mildly dealt with.
“Islamophobia is a big issue and although everybody rightly spoke about anti-semitism, there was not as much emphasis and talk about Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is not just in the Conservative party, it is actually in the establishment. It is especially present in the media in this country; most of the newspapers of our country are very right-wing and anti-Muslim.
She added: “It doesn’t matter whether you malign Muslims, it’s essentially okay, you can get away with it. That is sadly a reflection of the current state of affairs in the UK.”