Suspected arson attacker charged with attempted murder

Crown prosecutors have laid 13 charges against a man suspected of attacking his wife and daughter and setting the family house ablaze in a quiet Langley neighbourhood.

Andre Richard, arrested Thursday near Fernie, in southeastern B.C., was officially charged with three counts of attempted murder, arson, break and enter, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and two counts of breach of recognizance, said Cpl. Holly Marks, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

Richard was scheduled to be returned to Langley to appear in court Monday, April 7 following his arrest in the interior.

"This was a tragic event which thankfully now has a a successful conclusion," said Supt. Derek Cooke, head of the Langley RCMP detachment. "I would like to express my thanks for the role played by the media, the general public, and in particular the individual who brought Richard to police attention."

The violent incident in the early hours of Wednesday morning saw the home of Richard’s family gutted by fire.

Police and firefighters in Langley Township were called to an incident in the 19600 block of Wakefield Drive Wednesday morning.

Marks said a man broke into the home, set the house on fire, and then attacked the woman. The woman’s daughter tried to intervene and she was struck in the chest with the same weapon or weapons.

The woman, her daughter and her son all managed to escape the house before it was gutted by the fire. The woman and her daughter were both hospitalized with their injuries but were expected to survive.

Police announced that they believed the attacker to have been the woman’s estranged husband. By the late afternoon, an arrest warrant for Richard had been issued for breaching a no contact order that banned him from being in the presence of his wife.

The two were separated and described as estranged by police, who said they were aware of domestic violence incidents.

In the aftermath of the fire, it was uncertain for some hours whether Richard had actually fled the burning home, or if he had died in the fire. Police had begun searching for him already under the assumption he was still alive. Alerts were issued for his vehicle and his photo was released to the press.The person who called in the complaint followed the suspicious vehicle until it came to a stop. 

A vehicle Richard had been reportedly driving was later pulled over near Fernie thanks to a report from a passerby that the vehicle was being driven erratically. The caller thought there might be a drunk driver behind the wheel.

Richard was arrested peacefully after the local police brought in a crisis negotiator.

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