The man accused of fatally stabbing Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker with recent roots in Toronto, Global News has learned.
Jongwon Ham is charged with first-degree murder in the killing, which happened Tuesday as Yang accompanied a Burnaby parks worker to tell him he could no longer tent in a local park.
Global News has learned that Ham was an accomplished director, cinematographer and editor, with television and documentary credits. In 2013 he won an audience choice award for his part in a short film in the Arirang Korea Smartphone Film Festival, and 2014 he worked on an Emmy-winning travel and food documentary.
In Ontario, the now-37-year-old studied media fundamentals at at Sheridan College in 2005-2006 and television and new media at Loyalist College between 2006 and 2009, according to his LinkedIn profile.
So how did Ham go from a budding career as a filmmaker in Ontario to a tent in a Burnaby park?
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Global News spoke with a close friend of Ham’s who said he was devastated to learn about the murder allegations.
The friend said Ham was falsely accused of a sexual assault in Toronto nearly 10 years ago, and that the strain of the investigation sent him to a dark place.
Global News has confirmed with police sources in British Columbia and Ontario that Ham was charged with sexual assault in Toronto in 2014, and that the charge was withdrawn, but not until three years later in 2017.
A downward mental health spiral for Ham ensued. He lost contact with friends and vanished off social media four years ago.
How and why he made his way west remains unclear.
Court documents reveal that prior to becoming homeless, Ham was living near Kingsway and Knight Street in Vancouver, where Global News has learned he was sharing a penthouse apartment with a roommate.
That changed with a 911 call in January 2021.
Police confirm they responded to a call from the resident who reported they’d received a death threat from the person they were living with, and were concerned about the person’s mental health.
Suspect charged in death of Burnaby RCMP officer
A neighbour Global News spoke with described Ham at the time as paranoid.
Shortly after, Ham agreed to leave the building, a move followed by a string of run-ins with the law.
In February 2021, he was charged with assault and resisting a police officer, and in March the following year, charged again with assault for allegedly assaulting a security guard at the food court in Vancouver’s Harbour Centre.
Residents of the neighbourhood where the fatal stabbing took place told Global News he had been living in the park for close to two years, reduced to washing his socks in a water fountain.
One neighbour told Global News Ham had claimed to be a newcomer from the Philippines.
Ham had previously been removed from the park, Global News has learned, but had returned. On the day of her death, Yang — a member of the Burnaby RCMP mental health and homeless outreach team — had been deployed to give him the news he would have to leave again.
Ham was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after Yang fired her service weapon in the altercation that cost her her life, according to the Independent Investigations Office.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 2.
A GoFundMe for Yang’s family has raised more than $62,000.
— with files from Rumina Daya
&© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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