Two youths hit a 19-year-old over the head with a brick, then dumped him in the river. Why? For cross-tagging
MONTREAL – On a Saturday night in November 2009, three teenagers from Verdun headed out to a secluded area under a Highway 15 overpass where local youths gather to paint graffiti and drink beer.
The longtime friends were there to celebrate the upcoming 16th birthday of one of the boys. The youths, one 14-year-old and two 15-year-olds, were drinking beer when an affable 19-year-old named Brian Kachur showed up.
Kachur had spent the early part of the evening eating pizza and chatting with his extended family at a dinner in his Verdun home. While the rest of his family sat down to watch a film, Kachur told his mother he was going out “bombing.”
Kachur fancied himself a “graffiti artist” and his graffiti tag “Razor” could be found on buildings and cement pillars across southwestern Montreal. As he struck up a conversation with the three strangers, Kachur told the boys his tag name was Razor.
The name was familiar to one of the 15-year-olds, who had been miffed a while back after noticing that on two occasions, someone named Razor had spraypainted his name over part of his own tag – a frowned-upon practice in the graffiti world known as cross-tagging.
The youth had been trying to find out “who Razor was” and now the culprit was standing right beside him.
As the teenagers consumed beer, smoked marijuana and took ecstasy, the 15-year-old began to devise a plan to exact revenge on Kachur.
Kachur had no specific plans that Saturday night so he was likely happy to tag along with the three younger teens who shared his hobby.
Some details of what happened next are unclear because those involved were under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
However, according to evidence presented at the preliminary hearing of the 14-year-old, Kachur suggested they return to his house on Moffat St. so he could collect some more cans of spray paint.
While Kachur was in his house, the 15-year-old whose graffiti had been cross-tagged told the other boys he wanted to beat Kachur up. The 14-year-old agreed, but the other youth said he wasn’t sure whether he would participate.
After Kachur came out of his house, the four headed toward the St. Rémi tunnel. Along the way, the 15-year-old picked up a brick and asked his two friends to do the same. Some of the bricks were placed in a knapsack carried by one of the youths.
Kachur became uncomfortable when he noticed bricks being collected and he nervously joked that he hoped the bricks weren’t meant for him. One of the 15-year-olds reassured him the bricks were “for their protection” because he had been attacked at that spot once before.
The youths spent the next few hours doing graffiti in the industrial sector of Verdun.
Around 3 a.m., the 15-year-old put his plan into action.
He told Kachur that he had to meet his brother near the Verdun Marina so they could all attend a party.
As they made their way to a park beside the St. Lawrence River, the other 15-year-old boy decided to head home, uncomfortable with what was about to unfold.
The park beside the marina was familiar to Kachur. He had been there the day before and had started a new tag on a small pumping station in the park.
As Kachur was finishing the tag, the 15-year-old came up behind him and smashed a brick across the back of his head, according to testimony that he gave last December at the preliminary hearing of the 14-year-old.
As Kachur slumped to the ground, the 15-year-old struck him with the brick several more times and kicked him repeatedly, leaving him clinging to life. According to the 15-year-old, his 14-year-old friend also kicked Kachur and threw a brick at his head, although the younger boy claims he has no memory of this because he was intoxicated.
One of the boys then stomped on Kachur’s face.
The two teens then picked up Kachur’s 133-pound body and carried it more than 100 metres to the river’s edge.
They took off his shoes and trousers and dropped him into the frigid water.
The next morning, a man walking on a path beside the St. Lawrence River discovered Kachur’s body in shallow water near the marina.
Later that day, the 15-year-old who planned the attack returned to the park with a friend to retrieve one of the bricks.
André Bourgault, the pathologist who examined Kachur’s body, confirmed the victim received several forceful blows to the back of his head during the attack. There were also cuts on his face, his lip and his left ear. Kachur had very few defensive wounds, Bourgault testified at the preliminary hearing.
Bourgault also told the Youth Court judge that Kachur was still alive when he was dumped in the water.
“He took a few breaths in the water.”
Theresa Brochet picked up a newspaper while riding the métro to work on the Monday morning and shuddered at the headline: “Body pulled from St. Lawrence River.”
Brochet had been worried sick about her son after he failed to come home on the weekend. He wasn’t answering his phone and she couldn’t understand why he hadn’t returned messages she and her daughter, Laurie Ann, had left.
At lunch, she showed the article to a friend and said: “I hope this isn’t my son.”
Brochet had spent many years fretting about her son, a “sweet and charming” young man who was struggling to find his way in life.
As a boy, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which led to difficulty at school. He dropped out of school in his early teens and came off Ritalin because it made him ill. He had started smoking marijuana instead.
When he wasn’t tagging, he spent time with his father, Walter Kachur, and a small circle of close friends. He wrote rap songs about his life, but he lacked the money or the contacts to record his work.
His graffiti was an outlet for his artistic talent, his mother said, adding that she often pleaded with him not to tag on private property. Despite his difficulties, Brochet said, her son was a good boy who cooked her dinner when she was tired and baked her a cake on her birthday.
After her son’s death, Brochet said, she received a phone call from one of Kachur’s elementary school teachers. The woman told her that she had kept mementoes from former students and among them was a graffiti-style sketch of her name that Kachur had proudly presented to her when he was about 10 years old.
“She said he was so proud of it,” Brochet recalled.
Two months after Kachur’s death, in February 2010, Montreal police released the video showing the youths walking behind the tire store in Verdun the night Kachur was killed.
Within days, Brochet and Montreal police began receiving phone calls from people identifying the youths who had been with Kachur the night he was killed. Police questioned the teens and then let them go while they pursued their investigation.
After learning the identity of the 15-year-old boy, Brochet said she sent him a message on Facebook to set up a meeting. “You’re one of the last people who saw my son and I would like to find out what my son did the last few hours of his life,” Brochet told him.
The youth, who had devised the plan to assault Kachur, agreed to meet with her.
When he turned up at her house, he was dressed in his Sunday best and had neatly combed hair. “He had an angelic face,” she recalled. The youth sat in her home and expressed his condolences over Kachur’s death.
“Brian était un bon gars,” he said.
Two months later, in April 2010, Brochet received a phone call from the lead homicide detective in the case. He was calling with good news. Police had arrested the 14-year-old and the 15-year-old who had the temerity to visit her home two months earlier. Both teens were initially charged with second-degree murder.
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the media is prohibited from identifying them because they are minors.
The detective later showed Brochet a photo of Kachur’s tag on a Metro grocery store in Verdun. It partially covered the tag of the 15-year-old. “This is why your son died,” the detective told her.
Two months ago, the 15-year-old, who is now 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Youth Court in Montreal. A date for his sentencing has not been set.
The 14-year-old, who is now 16, pleaded guilty yesterday to a lesser charge of manslaughter. He received a three-year sentence.
Brochet said she finds it unfathomable that her son was killed because of a cross tag. She thinks that “two violent kids” used it as an excuse to beat up her son and wonders whether the 15-year-old was trying to “make a name for himself on the street.”
After the youth was arrested, police learned that he had told some friends that he had “killed Razor.”
Brochet said she can’t imagine what went through her son’s mind during the attack.
“Brian didn’t use his fists,” she said. “He didn’t know how to fight.”
In an emotional victim impact statement delivered in court yesterday, Brochet told Judge André Vincent that she is haunted by the sickening images of her son’s final moments.
“My son was far from perfect,” she said. “I loved him and he loved me. I will always remember the day his coffin was closed and I knew I would never see my son smile again.”