SURREY, B.C. – Authorities in British Columbia charged a suspect with second degree murder on Saturday in connection with the slaying of hockey mom Julie Paskall, a case that police said touched the hockey community across Canada.
Yosef Jomo Gopaul, 27, was arrested Friday and will appear in court on Monday to face the allegations against him. The suspect had moved to B.C. from Ontario roughly eight weeks prior to Paskall’s death, police told a news conference.
Paskall, 53, a mother of three, was attacked in the parking lot of a community ice arena Dec. 29, after arriving to pick up her son, a referee was who was officiating a minor hockey game. She died in hospital on Dec. 31.
“It has hit everybody to the core, especially something that is such a random act of such violence,” said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. “And from somebody that has only been in the city for eight weeks, that in itself will even strike a deeper chord.”
Paskall’s death rattled the community near Vancouver in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. It prompted some Surrey residents to demand the city and the police do more to keep them safe.
However, it’s unclear if mounties will still have as many patrols around the ice rink now that the suspect has been caught.
RCMP said that they will reassess how officers are deployed in Surrey’s Newton area, which is where the attack occurred.
”Julie’s death not only had a devastating impact on her family and friends, the community of Newton, the city of Surrey but the entire hockey community across this country,” said Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, who added he received countless offers of support and help.
”In the aftermath of losing Julie, I received messages from across the country,” said Fordy, who described himself as a “hockey dad” and former coach.
“Your selfless offers are keeping with all the best things about the hockey community and our country.”
Paskall’s husband Al welcomed news of an arrest in the case.
”While this is very important, it does not bring her back, she’s deeply missed and this has been an extremely difficult time for our family,” Al Paskall told the news conference.
”We have suffered an unthinkable loss.”
Even before Paskall’s death, the municipality had formed a task force to figure out how to curb the city’s homicide rate. Surrey set a grim record of 25 homicides in 2013, including Paskall’s death, compared with 11 the previous year.
The task force released a report in February that called for additional police officers and increased street patrols, which would be deployed to “high-risk” locations known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity.
Police said Saturday the investigation into the Paskall case was conducted in a “surgical, precise manner” and officers worked around the clock.
The investigation included crime scene and forensic analysis, extensive search and canvas of the area, the review of approximately 1000 hours of video footage and countless hours of physical surveillance.
Police said the suspect arrested does have a criminal record, but not in British Columbia. Investigators declined to elaborate. There was no indication why Gopaul moved from Ontario.