Staff Sgt. Colin Chisholm of the Calgary Police Service Homicide Unit has been an officer for almost three decades but hasn’t seen anything like the circumstances around the man charged with first-degree murder who has been deported back to Canada from Vietnam.
“Absolutely, this is like nothing else in my 28 years of policing that I’ve ever come across,” he said Friday, regarding the arrest of 22-year-old Nathan Gervais.
Gervais is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Lukas Strasser-Hird, who was swarmed, stabbed and beaten outside a Calgary nightclub in November of 2013.
Three other men have already been convicted in the death: Assmar Shlah and Franz Cabrera of second-degree murder and Joch Pouk of manslaughter.
But one week before jury selection in Gervais’ case, he fled, prompting a Canada-wide warrant.
This month, police announced Gervais had been found in Vietnam and Chisholm said they were first alerted in November 2017 that Gervais was in police custody in that country.
“In January, we were advised by the ministry of public security in Vietnam that Gervais was to be deported back to Canada and at their request, the Calgary Police Service assisted with Gervais’ escort from Hanoi, Vietnam,” he said.
Homicide Unit officers travelled to Vietnam and accompanied him back to Canada, where he was arrested at the Toronto airport before coming to Calgary.
He was denied bail Thursday night upon his return.
While this has prompted another investigation, Chisholm couldn’t elaborate on many questions, including how Gervais got to Vietnam, how long he was there, where he was staying, if he was helped in fleeing and where else he had spent time.
All he could confirm was they were notified of being in Vietnam police custody in November.
“This investigation is before the courts, there are details that we cannot release at this time,” he said. “I understand it’s frustrating for you, but when there’s the time and place for me to be able to provide with further details or somebody else within the service, we will do that.”
Chisholm couldn’t say if they had any leads of where he was after he fled more than two years ago or elaborate on any logistical issues regarding facing a trial in Calgary, as well as any possible charges in Vietnam.
He did say that multiple agencies were involved, including forces from Vietnam, Japan, INTERPOL, Peel Regional Police, Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP.
Chisholm said Gervais appears to be in good health.
“He was cooperative in the fact that we had no issues with the deportation from Hanoi, all the way to Toronto,” he said. “The work by our investigators, the cooperation between agencies was just absolutely tremendous.”
Chisholm expects Gervais will have another court appearance next week.
“Lukas’ family is very thankful for all the work that our investigators put into this and that he’s back to face justice,” Chisholm said.