Father of 14-year-old Metro Vancouver homicide victim says his son was set up

The father of a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed Monday night says his son, Tequel Willis, was delivering car keys to someone in Surrey, B.C., when he was gunned down.

Speaking from his home in Kelowna, David Weisgarber told CBC he believes Tequel was set up by someone who called him the night of Dec. 28.

“He took a cab at seven o’clock and went to Surrey … and he took some car keys which were to be delivered to somebody at that location. They apparently told him they had sold a car and they needed the keys,” said Weisgarber.

“When he was getting out of the cab looking at his phone … a guy got out of a vehicle that pulled up and just started shooting.”

Weisgarber said Tequel was shot a number of times.

“I talked to the coroner today and she figures he died instantly,” he said.

The location of Monday’s murder of a 14-year-old in the 11000-block of 148A Street in Surrey. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Police have not identified Willis by name but said a 14-year-old was shot in a targeted hit as he was stepping out of a taxi near 148A Street and 110 Avenue in Surrey, around 7:30 p.m. PT, Dec. 28.

A dark sedan was seen speeding from the area and 30 minutes later police in nearby Langley were called to a car fire.

“Based on the description of the vehicle fleeing the scene it appears to be the same vehicle found burning in Langley, but we have yet to make a conclusive link,” said Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Sgt. Frank Jang.

Tequel’s grandmother confirmed he was at his Burnaby home making milkshakes with his sister Monday night then left in a taxi shortly after getting a phone call.

Tequel Willis (front) in a photo submitted by his father. (Submitted by David Weisgarber)

Carol June Downey said she is devastated by his death.

“I didn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing — he’s a child,” she said. “The people who have done this need to be accountable for his life.”

Weisgarber said Tequel’s life was made difficult by mental health and behaviour issues that went untreated, and a mother who moved frequently.

He said the boy had attended upwards of 50 different schools over his young life, and was placed in a program for deaf students at South Slope School in Burnaby at one point, even though he didn’t have hearing problems. 

“They put them there because they didn’t know where else to put him,” said Weisgarber. “He had problems concentrating and he’d get frustrated.”

“He was never able to attend school really, could not read or write, and basically had to manage the way a person would do without those skills.”

Weisgarber said Tequel, who turned 14 in September, had minor run-ins with police and was under a 9 p.m. court imposed curfew that he had been following.

He doesn’t believe his son was mixed up in the drug trade or with gangs, but said he was attracted to “the wrong people.”

Downey said she last spoke to Tequel on Christmas day and will remember him as someone who loved his family and was especially close to his younger sister.

“He was my baby. We used to sit around and talk and play checkers, dominos and games on the video,” she said. “He was a beautiful grandson.”

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