Shane Matheson, the 19-year-old Trenton man charged with trying to kill Scott Jones in New Glasgow, will return to Pictou Provincial Court Oct. 31 for a bail hearing. He is charged with attempted murder as well as several other charges.
The courtroom was packed with spectators for the man’s appearance which has made headlines across the country after friends and family said they believe Jones was targeted because he is gay.
Police have given no indication yet that it was a hate crime.
Although friends of Jones have reported a second person was involved, Const. Ken MacDonald said police are not looking for anyone else at this time as they are still processing evidence.
Some were crying in the courtroom during the appearance.
As Matheson got up to leave someone shouted, “I love you Shane.”
Monica George-Punke was at the appearance. She taught Jones in the Pictou District Honour Choir and is also the mother of Amy Punke, a friend of Jones'.
“I just want to be here to show support for Scott’s family. I think that’s really important,” she said, elaborating that they need support throughout the process, not just during the immediate aftermath.
Vivian Farrell was also at the court appearance to show support for Jones. Her daughter, Susan, has been friends with Scott and his sister, Sherise, for a long time, she said.
“I know their family very well. I’ve always been just in awe of the wonderful family they are and so I’m just so honoured to be here to support them today and to support Scott in whatever he has to go through for as long as it takes.”
They were all in Pictou District Honour Choir together and often traveled together.
George-Punke said she was at the courthouse representing alumni from the choir who wished they could be there.
A trust fund and website collecting donations for Jones’ rehabilitation has been set up in his honour as well as a Facebook group for support.
Amy Punke, a friend of Jones’, was visiting him in the hospital on Sunday.
Despite the circumstances, she said he’s remaining positive.
“He’s completely overwhelmed with the support he’s received,” she said, adding that the story went national very quickly and many have already tried to donate money.
Instead of dwelling on what’s happened, he’s been discussing starting a new choir in town, she said, with a focus on diversity.
“The choir is a place for no judgment.” Punke said. Although it’s still only a possibility, she said it would be a place with no discrimination.
Punke had been out with Jones Friday night.
They had been at the Acro Lounge and were leaving to go to the Roseland Cabaret.
Punke said she was already inside the cabaret when Jones was attacked. He had been walking with a male friend who was unharmed, she said.
Punke said that she, other friends and Jones believe it was a hate crime based on Jones’ sexual orientation.
“It was the nature of the evening and how he was singled out,” she said, adding that it’s difficult to describe why they believe that to be the case.
As the investigation is still in preliminary stages, police can't say if there's any indication it was a hate crime.
The New Glasgow Regional Police Service Major Crime Unit and Forsenic Identification Unit are still in the process of analyzing evidence, including some found on scene.
Const. Ken MacDonald said Matheson was arrested by police shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday night on High Street without incident.
In addition to the attempted murder charge, the man is also charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public. He is also charged in a seperate and unrelated incident of assault with a weapon against an 18-year-old woman.
MacDonald said an arrest brings a sense of relief.
"A stabbing is not a regular occurrence here. It's a rarity."
Police are still asking for the public's assistance in the case.
On Saturday shortly before 2:30 a.m., New Glasgow Regional Police while on routine patrol noticed a male laying down near the intersection of Archimedes Street and Forbes Street New Glasgow where an adult male had been stabbed.
The 27-year-old man, who friends have identified as Scott Jones from New Glasgow, was immediately transported to Aberdeen Hospital by Emergency Health Services where he was then airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre Hospital in Halifax. The victim remains in critical but stable condition.
Friends say his spine was severed and he has been left paralyzed by the attack.
New Glasgow Regional Police Forensic Identification Unit and police K-9 Unit also attended.
Monica George-Punke, whose daughter Amy Punke had been out with Jones and other friends that night, had taught him voice for years and was shocked by the news.
"He is a fine human being who has no aggression in him," Punke said. "He is truly a peaceable human being who was determined to make the world a better place."
She saw him in hospital and said despite the harsh new reality that he has to face, Jones is treating this attack with the same determination she's seen him bring to other areas of life.
She said he is focusing on what he can still do like play the piano and organ and swim instead of the ability to walk he's lost.
She said those who know him are shocked and don't know what to do.
"We’ve never had to deal with anything like this," she said. "No one knows what we’re feeling. The main thing is to stay strong for Scott and his family."
He sang in the Pictou County District Honour Choir for seven years and also taught it for a time.
He graduated from Mount Allison University with a bachelor of music in piano performance. He also attended the University of Manitoba for a master's degree in choral conducting, but left due to illness.
He returned to New Glasgow approximately two months ago and began working at Baked Cafe and with a local church.
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