OLDS — A Calgary man is expected to appear in Calgary provincial court this morning on a first-degree murder charge after a pickup truck plowed into a crowd outside an Olds’ bar on Friday.
An Olds College student, later identified as Nicholas Baier, 18, was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to hospital.
RCMP laid five charges against Jeffrey Kevin Leinen, 24, of Calgary, over the weekend. In addition to first-degree murder, police have charged him with dangerous operation causing death, impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death, dangerous operation causing bodily harm and impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
Leinen remained in custody over the weekend.
K-Division media spokesman Sgt. Patrick Webb said on Saturday that it is fairly rare to file a first-degree murder charge in relation to offences involving vehicles.
A first-degree murder charge alleges that a person did something deliberately.
Police have not yet identified the man who died to the media, but an autopsy by the Calgary Medical Examiner’s Office has determined his identity and that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Another man was seriously injured in the incident and at least two others have come forward to say they were also injured, Webb said.
Others have identified the man who died outside of Texas Mickey Bar in Olds early Friday morning as Nicholas Baier, of Altario, a hamlet located about 270 km east of Red Deer. Family members contacted over the weekend declined to comment.
Olds College student Kaycee Lunde, a friend of Baier, said she is still pretty shaken up about what happened.
“Nicholas was known on campus for being one of the happiest ag management kids, always having a smile or a joke,” said Lunde, in a message through Facebook to the Advocate. “I met him last year in the first week of college, both of us hadn’t turned 18 yet. So we both got known as the 17 year olds on campus.”
Lunde said Baier was known as a Ford guy and she is known as a Chevy girl, so they would constantly tease each other about that.
“Nic was loved by everyone, always friendly and polite, and never did anything wrong,” Lunde said. “He will be greatly missed and in our hearts always.”
Lunde said Baier was one of the most optimistic people she knows. As an example she points to a quote on his Facebook account: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “Holy sh–. . . . What a ride!!”
Harm Oosterink, 19, was also friends with Baier since they met during their first year of school at Frank Grisdale Hall, one of the residences at Olds College.
“If he saw you across the yard he’d be the first to yell,” said Oosterink, who is studying agriculture and heavy duty mechanics at Olds College. “He was a good kid. He would never hurt a fly.”
Oosterink was also at the bar the night of the incident but didn’t see his friend get hit by a vehicle. Oosterink said he saw Baier laying on the ground shortly after he was hit. He didn’t find out until later Friday morning, when two of his buddies went to the hospital, that he had lost his friend. They brought flowers to a little spot by the bar to mark where their friend had lost his life.
On Saturday at his townhouse in Olds, Oosterink said Baier was always up for going out for a beer and having a good time. He said people have come together like a family on campus to support each other.
Olds College was relatively quiet on Saturday, with many of the students who were close friends with Baier heading home for the weekend. A bunch of red roses were tied to a pole in front of the Texas Mickey Bar on Saturday.
Celina Doerksen works at a bakery close to the bar in Olds. The Olds High School student said many of the customers were talking about what happened on Friday.
“It’s a little bit freaky,” Doerksen said. “It’s not Calgary. We’re not used to this.”
She said police came in to see if there was any video surveillance at the bakery of what went on during Friday’s incident.
Olds RCMP have said that a man drove into a crowd of people in the parking lot of the Texas Mickey Bar after being kicked out, shortly after midnight on Friday. Others have said that the trouble started inside the bar after a man began punching a college student in a wheelchair and then hit bar staff who tried to intervene. A man then plowed into a crowd of people in front of the bar. A pickup was found three blocks away, rolled on its side, and police arrested a man who climbed out of the vehicle.
Sgt. Patrick Webb said police are continuing to investigate with the Red Deer RCMP serious crimes unit, members from the Olds RCMP detachment and other neighbouring detachments interviewing witnesses and victims in the incident. Webb said there are more charges pending in relation to this case.
Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to call the Olds RCMP at 403-556-3324.