Arrests made as police crack arsons targeting JIBC staff

Langley man alleged to have orchestrated deliberate fires, shootings targeting 15 people across Metro Vancouver

Map of connected arsons and shootings in 2011 and 2012.

Police have made two arrests in connection with more than 20 arsons or shootings across Metro Vancouver that targeted students and staff of the Justice Institue of B.C. in 2011 and 2012.

Langley resident Vincent Eric Gia-Hwa Cheung, 40, is alleged to be the orchestrator of the attacks and faces 19 arson-related counts involving damage to vehicles or homes, and another four of intentionally shooting at or into cars or homes.

Thurman Ronley Taffe, a 54-year-old Burnaby resident, is charged with one count of intentionally or recklessly damaging a home with fire.

Police say 15 innocent people were targeted.

A threatening email sent in July 2011 to the JIBC, which trains police and other law enforcement officers, named nine people, all of whom had their homes or vehicles targeted in the preceding months.

Investigators determined an ICBC employee had queried the 15 victims’ licence plates to gain their personal details.

The investigation gained momentum in January of 2012, when three suspects connected to an arson in Surrey were identified, leading police to zero in on Cheung, alleged to be behind all the attacks.

Some victims began receiving suspicious letters in early 2015, one of which warned the attacks would soon resume.

“We know there are still people who have additional information about these offences and this investigation is continuing with further arrrests and charges anticipated,” said Kevin Hackett, chief officer of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

He said the accused used “cunning and calculated misdirection” to try to throw off police, complicating the probe.

Five arsons took place in both Surrey and other arsons or shootings took place in West Vancouver, Lions Bay, Vancouver, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge.