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Funds set up for victims of accused arsonist

Andre Harvey Richard was arrested in Fernie on Thursday. He is accused of the attempted murder of his wife and two kids after the family
Andre Harvey Richard was arrested in Fernie on Thursday. He is accused of the attempted murder of his wife and two kids after the family's home was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday morning.
— image credit: Langley RCMP

The community is coming together to support the Langley family involved in last week’s attempted murder and arson.

Already $5,000 has been raised to help the mother and her two children rebuild their lives, after escaping from the attack and fire, allegedly set by the estranged husband and father in their Willoughby home.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up by co-workers and friends who say the family is “now safe and recovering after this horrible ordeal.”

“All I can say is that the family is together and safe, but unfortunately they are homeless,” said Hailey McShane, a family friend who started the fundraising campaign along with Margaret Jones.

“They have lost almost everything, and are really starting from scratch. Every penny counts and we so appreciate the generosity and support of the community. It shines a bright light in such a dark time for the family.”

Meanwhile, a trust account has been started at Envision Financial in Langley City and an online account at YouCaring.com has already generated $2,000.

Family friend Lisa said the Wakefield neighbourhood is rallying together to find ways to support the family.

They lost everything in the fire, including mementos, clothing, furniture and will struggle financially, she said.

Meanwhile, Andre Harvey Richard, 44, made his first court appearance in Surrey Provincial Court on Monday, facing 13 criminal charges including three counts of attempted murder, as well as charges of arson and break and enter.

In addition, he faces four counts of assault with a weapon — involving two victims, each allegedly assaulted with two different weapons, and two counts each of assault causing bodily harm as well as breaching a no contact order with his ex-wife.

“This was a tragic event which, thankfully, now has a successful conclusion,” said Langley RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke.

“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.”

Richard is accused of trying to kill his estranged wife and her two children by setting fire to the Wakefield Drive home in which they were sleeping on April 2.

At 9:30 a.m. on April 4, more than 24 hours after Richard’s estranged wife, her daughter and son escaped from their burning home, RCMP received a call of an erratic, and possibly impaired, driver near Fernie — 30 minutes from the Alberta border.

The witness followed the suspect until the vehicle — a grey Saturn SUV — came to a stop. The driver exited the vehicle and ran into bushes at the side of the road, said police.

A crisis negotiator was called to the scene and local police arrived.

After some time, Richard was taken into custody without further incident.

The manhunt had begun early Wednesday morning, after it was determined that Richard wasn’t in the charred remains of the house. Police released a picture of Richard and issued an arrest warrant for him.

The Langley man is accused of going to his wife’s home around 1 a.m. and setting fire to it, before entering her bedroom and assaulting her with a pair of weapons. When the 14-year-old daughter tried to intervene, police say she was also assaulted.

The three victims, including the eight-year-old son, managed to escape the burning home and fled to a neighbour’s house, where 911 was called.

Police and Township fire crews arrived to find flames shooting through the windows and roof. The house was destroyed in the blaze.

The victims were all taken to hospital, where the mother remained in stable condition as of Friday. She is now out of hospital.

They are now looking for somewhere to rent.

“Any amount of donations would gladly be accepted to help pay for housing, furnishings, clothing and  any other possessions lost in the fire,” writes McShane on the fundraising page.

If you want to donate go to www.gofundme.com/81tclw. The fundraising name is “coworkers helping coworkers.”

At Envision the account is #7285828. Additionally, the Langley Bottle Depot (20137 Industrial Ave) and Willowbrook Recycling will be taking bottle donations for the family.

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