A man has pleaded guilty to opening fire on gang members who crashed his 20th birthday party – hitting one victim in the arm and causing "horrific" injuries.
Alexander Sanderson pleaded guilty on Wednesday in The Pas to a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm for the July 2013 incident in his home community of Grand Rapids. In exchange, the Crown dropped a more serious charge of attempted murder.
Sanderson was then given a sentence of two years jail as part of a plea-bargain. The Crown cited serious concerns with its case, including several key witnesses who either refuse to testify, claim they saw nothing or have gone missing.
The incident began when Sanderson and numerous friends were celebrating his birthday at a residence on the reserve. The party mood turned sour when several people – connected to the Indian Posse street gang – began confronting guests outside the home. They were also flashing gang signs and may have been carrying weapons, court was told.
"There was lots of monkey business going on," said Crown attorney Todd Rambow.
Sanderson grabbed a shotgun, came out his front door and fired at least one blast while the firearm was at his side. He did not specifically take aim at any victim, court was told.
The victim who was hit suffered gruesome injuries to his arm which has left it practically "useless," court was told.
Defence lawyer Wendy Martin-White said her client suffers from cognitive issues and felt like his safety was being threatened.
Provincial court Judge Malcolm McDonald told Sanderson to "consider yourself very lucky" the Crown was forced to cut a deal and agree to a much lighter sentence than this type of crime would typically attract. The judge also expressed concern about the prevalence of gangs in communities like Grand Rapids and the reluctance of people to cooperate with police and justice officials.
"It’s nothing but a recipe for disaster," said McDonald.
Sanderson has spent more than 13 months in custody without bail, which was given time-and-a-half credit. That leaves him with only about four months left of his sentence to serve.