The deaths of more than 20,000 chickens was the spark that led to gunfire and heavily armed police officers arresting an Aldergrove man this week.
Slade Berggren, 20, has now been charged with careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, unlawfully discharging a firearm, and uttering threats.
The shots were allegedly fired at a local chicken farmer.
Corey Spitters and his son-in-law run farms on 269A Street in South Aldergrove.
In the early morning hours of Aug. 14, Spitters’ son-in-law found that a breaker had been flipped in his barn, shutting off the ventilation system.
Two floors of specialty Taiwanese chickens were virtually wiped out, with 11,000 to 12,000 birds per floor.
The incident could have been an accident, or it could have been deliberate sabotage, and it comes on the heels of numerous disputes with neighbours upset that the two families are expanding their farms and building more barns, said Spitters.
Spitters’ son-in-law headed down the street to confront the man he believed was responsible, and to talk to the man’s parents.
It was then that Berggren allegedly fired the shots.
At least one shot hit the farmer’s pickup truck.
“He was definitely shooting in his direction,” said Spitters.
Another neighbour, who spoke to the Langley Advance on condition of anonymity, said she was awakened at about 12:30 by three rapid shots.
A large truck backed out of the driveway nearby and sped away, she said.
Neighbours called 911, and a large number of police, including the Emergency Response Team, descended on the street.
Neighbours saw ERT members with assault rifles, and their armoured personnel carrier, surround the house, and the street was blocked off.
“All of a sudden, everything went quiet,” the woman said. Police told them the incident was over.
The woman said there have been a number of alarming incidents of vandalism in the area.
One home has seen the tires on a vehicle slashed, and a brick thrown through the window with a note telling them to get out of the area, said the woman.
People have seen signs and lawn decorations disappear, and a sign warning about kids playing on the road set out by the chicken farms has been run over deliberately.
Spitters, who has farmed in the area for years, said some neighbours are friendly, while others are very hostile over the expanded farms.
Until recently, neighbourhood opposition was focussed on repeated complaints about construction, to the Township or other government agencies. Spitters said the families are doing everything by the book, but they’re facing numerous visits from officials thanks to the complaints.
Berggren was in court Friday, Aug. 17, for a bail hearing. He has been in custody since the Aug. 14 incident.