Red Deer classmate recalls man charged in Abbotsford school death as “really friendly”

A young man charged after a girl was killed in a B.C. school stabbing is from Red Deer.

This photo from the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team’s Twitter feed shows Gabriel Klein taken just hours prior to the Abbotsford Senior Secondary attack. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Twitter-@HomicideTeam

This photo from the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team’s Twitter feed shows Gabriel Klein taken just hours prior to the Abbotsford Senior Secondary attack. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Twitter-@HomicideTeam

“Something definitely happened to him.”

Tanner McDougall is talking about his former Red Deer high school classmate, Gabriel Brandon Klein, who he hasn’t seen since 2012.

The two attended shop classes together at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.

Klein, 21, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault after two students — 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and an unidentified 14-year-old girl — were stabbed in their Abbotsford, B.C., high school a week ago. Reimer was killed, and the other girl was seriously injured.

Police said it was a random knife attack by a homeless drifter who went into the school and attacked the girls before staff were able to stop him.

Klein had apparently gone to B.C. earlier this year and had been in Calgary before that.

McDougall, also 21, and who still lives in Red Deer, said Monday he was shocked when he first heard news reports about Klein, but he recognized him right away from the photo released by police who were trying to find out more information about the man.

Klein looked “identical” to what he looked like in school, with close cropped hair.

“That’s how I recognized him so quickly,” McDougall said.

The two shared a shop locker in their shop class in 2011 and 2012. They took full mornings of intermediate mechanics together.

“From what I remembered he was really friendly to everybody … I never heard anything bad,” McDougall said.

“As far as my experience with him and what I remember about him he was never in fights or anything like that. Just a typical high school kid … a very generic high school kid.”

“He was very personable, very approachable, very welcoming. … He was really like a good guy to talk to. Every time I talked to him it wasn’t really a disappointing conversation. I never walked away from him without a smile.”

McDougall did not recall him having a girlfriend but he said Klein had a lot of friends although he didn’t seem to belong to any particular circle.

“We never really partied that much together. … He was more mature than I was that’s for sure,” McDougall said.

“He was extremely regular. Nothing crazy about him. Never saw him in a bad mood.”

A recent report by another student who said she had seen Klein angry in high school was the first time McDougall said he had heard anything like that.

Klein is to appear in person in Surrey court on Wednesday. He was in Abbotsford provincial court on Monday by video conference but refused to speak. He had been in hospital immediately after the incident but has since been transferred to jail.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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