Last week’s homicide of a 24-year-old man in north Red Deer dismays Riverside Meadows resident Roger Socholotuik.
“I’ve been here 13 years and they’ve cleaned (the area) up so it’s 100 per cent better,” said Socholotuik, who lives near 58th Avenue and 61st Street.
“We don’t need that,” he added, of Red Deer’s second homicide of 2022.
At about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, Brandon Robert Loughlin, 24, of Red Deer, was found lying unconscious near that same intersection, just northwest of Koinonia Christian School.
According to Red Deer RCMP, Loughlin was transported to hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy done on Friday showed the manner of death was a homicide, but police have not released any more details.
Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit is investigating.
While Loughlin was known to police, investigators haven’t yet determined whether this was a targeted killing, said Corp. Troy Savinkoff, spokesperson for RCMP K Division in Edmonton.
But so far, there’s no indication that this death represents any risk to public safety, Savinkoff added.
Loughlin, who had attended Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School as a teen, was described by his friend Christina Kirkeby as a loyal, helpful person. “Not one person has anything bad to say about him…”
Although Loughlin was a troubled youth, he was getting his life back on track, said Kirkeby. She noted her late friend had a talent for woodworking and fixing things. He was respectful to women, good with animals, and he had a heart for the other homeless people he met while he living for a time on the street.
“He checked on people who were struggling with their mental health, made sure that they ate and had a place to sleep,” added Kirkeby.
“A lot of people are really shook up and upset about this… He didn’t deserve this.”
Todd Fitt, who lives in the neighbourhood, said he knew Loughlin in passing and had even spoken to him briefly. It’s upsetting when a young person dies like this, said Fitt, who hopes police will get to the bottom of the crime.
He doesn’t think of his neighbourhood as particularly dangerous, however. “I feel safe everywhere,” he added.
This view isn’t shared by neighbour, Veronica Schaefer, who is upset someone was killed near her townhouse, and worries about her children.
Schaefer said she doesn’t feel safe in the neighbourhood, as there have been bike thefts, as well as loud arguments heard on the public trail behind the townhouses.
Her son, Tristan noted some of the “crazy stuff” that happened recently included a lady screaming on the trail before setting fire to some dried leaves. “We put it out,” he added.
Gunshot-like sounds have also been also heard — but not in connection to this homicide, added his mother, who plans to move away.
None of the Riverside Meadows neighbours interviewed on Monday had heard anything suspicious before Loughlin was killed.
“I didn’t even know about it, “said Kelly Bleigh, who lives near 58th Avenue and 61st Street. “Everybody here seems friendly and I’ve never had any trouble.”
On Monday morning, regular trail walker Wendy Joujan said she’s always felt safe — “until I heard about the homicide…”
Although Joujan often encounters homeless people on her walk, “They are completely harmless… I even know some of their names,” she added.
Seniors Charles and Diane Gardner also walk along 61st Street twice a day and say they have never felt unsafe.
Red Deer’s first homicide of 2022 happened on Feb. 1. Reichel Alpeche, 30, died from injuries received near her home in Riverside after she attempted to stop a thief from stealing her vehicle.