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Banquet hall shooter said he heard voices

Police on the scene of the Jan. 16, 2013 shooting. - Martin van den Hemel
Police on the scene of the Jan. 16, 2013 shooting.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

With his shooting victims listening in the Richmond provincial court gallery, Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu claimed several voices in his head told him to gun down a former high school friend at the Riverside Banquet Hall in January of 2013.

"It was real. I heard him say it and I heard people around me say it," Sandhu testified Thursday morning about the voices he heard, prompting at least one member of the court gallery to shake her head in disbelief.

Sandhu is charged with three counts of attempted murder after he walked into the East Richmond banquet hall on the night of Jan. 16, 2013, pulled out a gun and fired at his target, whose name cannot be published under a court-ordered publication ban.

Sandhu said the voices told him that if he didn't shoot his target, his target was going to pull out a gun and shoot him instead.

"I realized I had to shoot him, right then and there," he told Richmond provincial court Judge Patrick Chen.

Sandhu then apologized for his actions.

"I feel terrible. I didn't want to hurt anyone...I'm sorry it happened."

Sandhu told the court that he believed his target laced a drink with mercury, which caused him to get Crohn's Disease—an inflammatory bowel disease—as a teenager.

Sandhu, who wore a bullet-proof vest and was armed with a nine-millimetre handgun that night, testified he never went to the banquet hall with the intention of hurting anybody.

He described the voices he heard that evening as "so real" and "commanding" and said he couldn't differentiate between what was real and what wasn't.

"Are you willing to get treatment?" Sandhu's lawyer Danny Markovitz asked.

"I just want to get better," Sandhu said, adding that sometimes the medication he's currently taking works, and sometimes it doesn't.

Said Sandhu: "I only tried to shoot (the victim) once. I thought he was going to kill me."

Sandhu said he saw his target fidget with his hands in his pocket, and at that point he shot him.

"I just knew I had to shoot him before he could shoot me."

Sandhu is expected to remain on the stand for cross-examination by Crown counsel Kerr Clark on Friday.

The shooting took place on the night when members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were celebrating 10 newly annointed union members, along with a birthday.

Four men were shot that night, including the target, who was struck in the head, abdomen and thigh.

Sandhu worked for the same union, and had aspirations of becoming a union member, which would have set him up for a lifetime of employment and health benefits.

Earlier in the trial, forensic psychiatrist Stanley Semrau testified that Sandhu suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

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