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Police layed six charges of first-degree murder Tuesday against...

By
GREG JOYCE

COQUITLAM, B.C. -- Police layed six charges of first-degree murder Tuesday against a 22-year-old man in connection with the deaths of six members of his family, including his mother and father, in a pre-dawn slaughter in a quiet residential subdivision.

Bruce Alfred Blackman, 22, who resided at the suburban split-level home where the murders occurred, was remanded in custody pending an appearance in B.C. provincial court Wednesday in adjacent Port Coquitlam.

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RCMP Inspector Robert Bell said the six people killed in the rampage were: fireman Richard Blackman, 50, father of the accused; his wife Irene Katherine, 49; and son Richard Joseph Blackman, 16, all of whom resided at the home where the bodies were found.

Also found dead were Roberta Lynn Davies, 28, of North Vancouver; her husband John Iorweth Davies, 39, of North Vancouver; and Karen Dale Rhodes, 25, of Coquitlam.

Mrs. Davies and Mrs. Rhodes were sisters of the accused.

Another family member, Barry, twin brother of the accused, was not in Coquitlam at the time of the killings. Police refused to reveal his whereabouts but neighbors of the family said he is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

There were reports that some of the victims' had been bludgeoned and some shot, but Bell refused to comment on the cause of death pending an autopsy to be performed Wednesday morning.

A neighbor saw one of the victims try desperately to flee a gunman in the pre-dawn darkness.

Neighbor Ed Field, who was awakened by gunshots and alerted police, said he heard cries for help and saw an armed man chase one of the victims around the house and order him back into the brightly lit home.

The victims, three male and three female, were shot about 5:30 a.m., PST (8:30 a.m. EST, police said.

Bruce Blackman was arrested by police as he walked down a hill away from the mass murder scene, Bell said. Police found a .22-calibre rifle near the home, the officer said.

Police would not comment further on the investigation. 'It's a complex situation and we're trying to find out what happened,' Bell said. 'Bodies were located throughout the house.'

Field, who lives across the street from the shooting scene, said he was awakened by the sounds of several gunshots and saw 'a couple of guys running around the lawn.

'It looked like somebody was chasing somebody. I heard a couple of shouts for help. The guys came back, one leading the other, and one guy fell down on his knees in the garage.

'The other guy told him to get back into the house. I'd opened my windows by this time. One guy came back and grabbed something off the bench in the garage and walked back into the house.'

Field said the house was ablaze with lights from the bedrooms to the basement and the garage door was open. He said a 'strange car' not previously seen on the block was parked in the driveway.

Field said he called police, who arrived as one man started 'walking down the hill' away from the house. He alerted police, who chased the man and apprehended him.

Blackman and his wife, Irene, who worked as a desk clerk for about three years in the promotion department of the Vancouver Province newspaper, moved into their home in the quiet Vancouver suburb two years ago, neighbors said.

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