“Gentle” Ponoka man murdered at Calgary party

A young Ponoka Comp grad murdered at a Calgary house party last weekend is being remembered as a gentle giant of a man.

A recent photo of Brett Wiese

A recent photo of Brett Wiese

A young Ponoka Comp grad murdered at a Calgary house party last weekend is being remembered as a gentle giant of a man.

Brett Wiese, 20, son of Jody and Brenda Wiese of Ponoka, was stabbed by two party crashers at a home in the northwest part of the city. Calgary police were called at 12:30 a.m. to deal with an assault at the party. They took statements and asked the uninvited people to leave, which they did.

Later in the evening nine people returned to the home in two cars and four of them entered the building. Police say it was at this point Brett wrestled one of the people to the ground.

He stood up to let the individual leave and was stabbed in the back by that person. Brett went to check his wounds in the kitchen when he was stabbed in the chest by a youth.

Police later apprehended a 17-year-old youth who has been charged with second-degree murder, and Mitchell William Harkes, 19, who is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and four counts of breach of conditions. Officers believe the 17-year-old suspect returned to the party after the first incident and Harkes came to the party in response to the first assault.

Calgary Police Service Staff Sgt. Doug Andrus said the crashers heard of the party through social media but he added party planners had informed their neighbours of the party.

“There was no indication the party went out of control,”

Two knives were recovered at the home, which police believe are the weapons used in the attack. A second victim was stabbed and remains in critical condition at a Calgary hospital. Police credit paramedics and doctors for saving that man’s life.

Brett’s uncle, Kip Wiese, acknowledges both Ponoka RCMP and Calgary Police Service for their professional conduct during the investigation. Calgary police were able to use eyewitness reports to determine the identity of two suspects. Local RCMP and Ponoka Victims Services told Brett’s parents of the tragedy and as of Jan. 14 were unable to see his body until an autopsy was completed.

Brett’s mother wanted people to be aware of her son and his contributions, said Mr. Wiese. She said to him, “I want them to know what has been taken from us.” There has been an outpouring of support from family and friends, Mr. Wiese said. The family has received visits, phone calls and text messages from people who knew Brett. Mr. Wiese remembers Brett and his athletic ability.

“He loved sports…He taught me how to wakeboard. He had such a natural talent.”

Mr. Wiese and other family members remember Brett as a person who was quite tall, at six foot four, but who had a “soft, gentle side. He was a person who loved people.”

“For such a large man he had such a gentle way,” Mr. Wiese added. He feels the messages they have received in tribute to Brett are a testament to his strong character.

Brett’s goal was to continue with his studies at the University of Calgary and eventually work with his father at Ponoka Ford.

“He was really clicking this year at university.” Mr. Wiese feels the real difficulty is the circumstances of Brett’s death, to be “taken on such a needless basis.” It is almost easier to reconcile the death of a loved one from an accident because a person can understand it, he said, but in this case it raises questions of the state of society.

For Brenda and Jody it is the last thing they expected to hear.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Brett’s sister, Morgan, is also extremely saddened of the loss, said Mr. Wiese. Aunts and uncles have come to support the family. Friends of Brett who are at hockey camps in the United States are cutting sessions short and flying to Ponoka in support of the family.

Brett graduated from Ponoka Composite High School, and principal Ian Rawlinson and vice-principal Kathy McTaggart remember him as a hard worker.

“We 100 per cent remember Brett, he’s a tough kid to forget,” said Rawlinson. Students and staff who knew Brett are saddened by what occurred and there are several people who have taken time off from school to deal with the loss. McTaggart remembers Brett as a student who always wanted clarification and loved to learn.

“To me he was a role model of what we want every student to be in our school.”

She credits Brett for being able to be positive in how he dealt with teachers and students. Staff are struggling with Brett’s death and Rawlinson has “dealt with quite a few tears on behalf of our staff this morning (Jan. 14) but I think that is just sincere sadness for the loss. Because it is a loss. It is an absolute loss.”

Mr. Wiese expects a large number of people to attend the funeral Jan. 18 at the Stagecoach hall at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds. “He was one of a kind.”