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Canadian Actress and College Student Is Gunned Down Leaving Campus Library
Maple Batalia, a beautiful 19-year-old college student, was on the cusp of realizing her dreams when she was shot and stabbed to death after leaving her campus library.
Maple Batalia’s parents had wanted a better life for their children.
They moved from their home in India to Canada to give their two young daughters the freedom to live the life they chose. Maple — whose father named her after the country’s iconic Maple tree — was on the cusp of achieving her dreams.
The beautiful 19-year-old college student was studying to be a doctor and already had a successful career underway as a model and actress, even earning a role in the popular film Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, according to Oxygen’s Killer Relationship with Faith Jenkins.
But in the early morning hours of Sept. 28, 2011, Maple was gunned down leaving her campus library, cutting short the hopes her parents held so dearly for their youngest child.
“Oh God, what has happened to our family? Our beautiful little child is lost forever,” her father Harkirat Batalia said of the agonizing moment he learned his daughter was gone.
Who is Maple Batalia?
Maple’s vibrant and magnetic personality was an instant draw to many throughout her life.
“Growing up people were amazed at how beautiful and charismatic she was,” her sister Roseleen Batalia recalled. “You would notice when Maple walked into a room.”
As Punjabi, the Batalia girls grew up as part of a close-knit community made up of other immigrants from India, attending the same temple and embracing the same cultural traditions as one another.
However, according to Roseleen, they had a “very non-traditional household.”
“She was allowed to go outside, play with boys and just kind of be free, which is kind of taboo in our culture,” her close friend Karen Kang explained. “She was like, ‘I want to be a doctor. I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a model, I want to be in movies.’ She always had big dreams.”
By the time she reached 14, many of those dreams were already beginning to fall into place. She landed her first runway modeling gig that year and later modeled in Vancouver fashion week.
Maple enrolled in acting school, got an agent and moved one step closer to her Hollywood aspirations.
Maple Batalia meets Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwhal
But, there was something else that caught the young teen’s attention too. She began dating a Punjabi boy named Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwhal, who came from a well-known and respected family in the community.
"Because Maple was so mature and she was doing so well in school and in life, that we were like she’s so responsible, why are we going to interfere too much more than we need to?” Roseleen said of the young romance. “He would go out of his way to, like, make sure Maple felt special. There would be, like, chocolates and flowers delivered to the house.”
The couple were self-described “foodies” and enjoyed dining out and spending time in nature.
Meanwhile, Maple’s acting career began to take off. She landed that role in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules and was cast in a kissing scene in a popular CW series.
“Maple and I and a few friends went to see the premiere and we sat with the crowd and during her parts we were cheering and she had tears in her eyes, she couldn’t believe that she was on the screen. So it was surreal,” Kang recalled of the movie.
But not everyone was as happy about the teen’s newfound success.
“Gary was jealous, he wasn’t happy for her, like a boyfriend that loves her should be,” her friend Natalie Sheck told the show. “I think he was really jealous of her light cause he didn’t have that light in him.”
The pair graduated from high school and while Dhaliwhal opted to forgo college to start working at his father’s trucking business, Maple headed to Simon Fraser University in Surrey, British Columbia.
Dahliwhal and Maple's Romance Sours
By August of 2011, the relationship was falling apart. Maple discovered that Dhaliwhal was cheating on her and decided to end the relationship.
She was ready to move on, but Dhaliwhal wasn’t willing to let her go so easily. Just a few days before her murder, he stormed into a coffee shop where she had gone with a male friend Dhillon, demanding to know who the new man was.
“He was yelling at me, ‘what are you doing? Do you like this guy?’ And he, like, finally just pushed me,” Maple later told police. “And so I was really, like, shaking and was really scared.”
Dhaliwhal was arrested and ordered to stay away from his ex.
But three days later, as Maple was leaving the library just after 1 a.m., a succession of gunshots rang out. Police arrived at the scene to find the 19-year-old barely clinging to life.
“She was laying on the ground, blood everywhere,” Cpl. Daniel Johnson, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, recalled. “Her body looked like it been stabbed and shot, but she had a pulse.”
Maple tried to tell Johnson something, but there was too much blood from her injuries, preventing her from saying anything he could understand.
“I remember telling her I was going to do everything that I could in my powers in my training to try and save her,” he said.
Tragically, her injuries — including multiple gunshot wounds and severe stab wounds to her head — would prove to be too grave and Maple died at a local hospital.
Sgt. Tyner Gillies, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was on hand when the family was delivered the heartbreaking news.
“Maple’s mother grabbed the back of my head and pulled me down so that our foreheads were touching and she screamed in my face, ‘bring me vengeance,’” he said of her powerful reaction.
The savage nature of the killing made investigators suspect the motive had been personal and it didn’t take long for them to take a close look at Dhaliwhal, but finding enough evidence to definitively link him to the crime was a more complicated endeavor.
How was Dahliwhal caught?
Although there were surveillance cameras throughout the campus, the camera capturing the section of the parking lot where Maple had been walking to her car panned away from her just seconds before the brutal murder. However, the cameras did show a distinctive white Dodge Charger with racing-type tail lights on the back speeding out of the parking lot just after the gunfire.
The same car was seen earlier in the night, following Maple and Kang as they briefly left the library to stop in a nearby coffee shop.
Due to its distinctive tail lights, the investigators were able to determine the vehicle was a 2011 model and requested information on all the white Dodge Chargers from that year registered in British Columbia. One of the cars was traced back to an Avis rental car and had been rented just days earlier by Dahiwhal’s friend Gursimar “Gary” Bedi.
The car had already been returned and was just about to be cleaned when authorities rushed to seize the car. They found a 9mm shell casing in the undercarriage of the hood that matched those found at the crime scene, recovered two small spots of blood that matched to Maple and found gunshot residue on the steering wheel, confirming the car had been used in the crime.
In another damaging piece of evidence, surveillance footage showed Dahliwhal with Bedi at the car rental office when Bedi rented the car.
Investigators still needed more, however, to determine who exactly pulled the trigger. Based on forensic evidence, they determined the killer had been in the driver’s seat. Surveillance footage showed Bedi getting out of the passenger’s side of the vehicle and entering a campus building hours before the shooting. He was also seen following Dhillon, who had been with Maple just minutes before her death.
After months of waiting, investigators finally got their hands on cell phone records which placed Dahlwhal at the scene and showed his phone traveling away from the campus just after the murder. It was enough to arrest both men, but investigators were still hoping for a confession.
Sarbjit Batalia joins the interrogation
With Dahlwhal sitting in an interrogation room, they tried to get him to talk for hours, even showing him photos of his slain ex-girlfriend. But it was Maple’s mom Sarbjit Batalia — the same woman who had demanded “vengeance” — who would ultimately provide the break they needed.
Sarbjit agreed to talk to Dahlwhal over the phone.
“Please tell me the truth, son,” she told him.
Amazingly, Sarbjit told him she didn’t want harm to come to him, but she missed her daughter and needed to know what happened.
“We are humans…whatever mistakes we make, God still forgives us,” she said. “You are my son, I forgive you.”
Dahlwhal began to cry before quietly, saying, “I’m very sorry.”
Although it wasn’t a full confession, it was enough for prosecutors to proceed with their case.
As part of a plea deal, Dahlwhal pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 2016 and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 21 years. Bedi received just 18 months behind bars for being an accessory after the fact.
For Maple’s family, it wasn’t justice.
“I felt like a chance of parole after 21 years still gives Gary a good chance at life and the couple months, the measly couple months, that his friend got as the last potential person that could have stopped him, was a smack in the face,” Roseleen said. “But nothing will bring her back.”
Today, they are focusing on preserving Maple’s memory.
“Because you cannot count the maple tree leaves of this universe and Canada, Maple’s soul will never die,” her father said. “She is always in our heart.”