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Mother looks for answers after Vernon teen received threats before fatal overdose

Solomon Holbrooke, 17, died by overdose July 17, and received death threats from ‘wannabe gangsters’ just hours before
Solomon Blake, 17, died by overdose in Vernon on July 17, 2023. (Michelle Blake photo)

Weeks after Solomon Holbrooke died of an overdose in Vernon, the 17-year-old’s mother says the RCMP hasn’t done enough to investigate his death.

And while Michelle Blake continues to mourn the loss of her son, she isn’t able to do so in peace. She says her son was threatened by “wannabe gangsters” in the lead-up to his overdose, and there have been some suspicious occurrences that suggest the perpetrators of those threats haven’t gone away.

Blake says her son was threatened for months, with people telling him they would kill him, his family and even his cat. The threats went on up until hours before his death.

“I’m literally scared to even go outside,” Solomon texted his girlfriend several hours before his death.

Solomon’s fatal overdose happened on July 17. A toxicology report reveals he had a lethal dose of fentanyl in his system as well as a lethal dose of hydromorphone, a schedule-two opioid that is sold under the brand name Dilaudid, or “dilly” in street slang. Blake hadn’t heard of Dilaudid before her son’s death and wants other parents to know about the substance.

She says it’s concerning how easy it is to give a minor — or anyone — a fatal dose of toxic drugs.

“How easy is it to give a user drugs that will kill them? It’s pretty easy.”

Vernon RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Tania Finn confirmed police responded to the sudden death of a youth on July 17.

“A fulsome and thorough investigation was conducted into the circumstances surrounding the person’s death. Based on the findings of the investigation, criminality is not suspected,” Finn said.

“We have been in regular contact with the next of kin and family to ensure they were supported and kept informed as the investigation progressed. Out of respect for the privacy of the family, details of that investigation will not be made public.”

Blake, however, believes there were some shortcomings in the investigation, such as the fact that police did not search her son’s phone to find out who gave him the drugs, and did not test the drugs found in his backpack.

She also charges that police haven’t done anything to investigate the threats Solomon was facing – and Solomon wasn’t the only target. According to Blake, a friend of Solomon’s went to the police to speak about his death, yet claims since that happened people have turned up at her door looking for this friend.

“The kid had to leave town with his mom,” she said, adding police have done little to assuage her fears.

“They’d get a car that would patrol by our house once in a while but that’s about it. And I don’t even know if they’re still doing that.”

Blake says she is worried about the safety of her other children and Solomon’s friends.

She says her son fell into the wrong crowd, but he was a happy kid. Before his death, he’d just gotten his first paycheque from working at Alexander’s Pub and had a new girlfriend.

“He was a popular kid … obviously he was with the wrong crowd, he liked to party, but he didn’t want to die.”

Solomon’s celebration of life is on Saturday, but Michelle says it’s been a challenge organizing it with all the distractions stemming from the threats.

“I’m having trouble even trying to get pictures … Even that’s stressing me out. It’s too much.”

READ MORE: Community comes together to support Vernon family after son’s death

READ MORE: Vernon miracle teen continues road to recovery

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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