Julien Levasseur charged with second-degree murder in death of Charan Dhandwar, 79, in New Westminster. Was it racist attack?

Photo courtesy CTV
Photo courtesy CTV

JULIEN Levasseur, 23, has been charged with second-degree murder in the brutal, senseless death of 79-year-old Charan Dhandwar on Wednesday (June 3) evening in the 1500-block of 8th Avenue of New Westminster.

Members of the New Westminster Police Department responded to a report of a man beating an elderly woman. They located a dead woman and took a young man into custody.  The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team assumed conduct of the investigation with the assistance of the NWPD Major Crime Unit.

Witnesses told the media they saw the man repeatedly kick the victim as she lay on the ground. Police told the media that the attack appears to be random and unprovoked.

Police said the man taken into custody was struck by an SUV or a van while running away from the scene and police are attempting to track down the male driver to try and find out why he was in that area at the time, IHIT Sgt. Stephanie Ashton told the media. The vehicle may have sustained some damage.

Levasseur was not known to police. He is believed to have been living in the area where the incident occurred.

The victim was the grandmother of one of the students of Lord Tweedsmuir Community School at 1714 8th Avenue.

Principal Sandra Cottingham in a letter to parents and guardians said: “Additional counselling supports have been in place for students and staff. We have been watching closely for students who appear to be impacted by this event. We know that you, too, will be watchful over your child and if there is a reaction that you are concerned about, please let me know and we will work together to support your child.”

Ashton said on Friday: “I have been asked to thank the community for their support to the Dhandwar family during this tragic time. However, I am now asking that the family be left to grieve in peace.”