A tarp covers the windshield of a vehicle that crashed after a fatal shooting near a busy shopping centre in Delta on Saturday, May 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A tarp covers the windshield of a vehicle that crashed after a fatal shooting near a busy shopping centre in Delta on Saturday, May 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Solving public shootings a ‘top priority’ for Metro Vancouver police: chief

The recent shootings show a ‘shocking’ disregard for public safety, says Neil Dubord

The police chief in Delta, B.C., offered comfort to community members following two brazen daytime shootings outside shopping malls on the Lower Mainland, saying officers across the region are working together to solve the crimes.

Chief Neil Dubord acknowledged that many residents are feeling worried after a corrections officer was killed in an attack outside Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall on Saturday afternoon.

On Monday, RCMP said another man suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in a shooting outside Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley, B.C., about 20 kilometres away.

The two incidents have not been linked.

“I want to acknowledge the anxiety I know that many people are feeling in our community in relation to the recent shootings that have happened in the Lower Mainland,” Dubord said during a news conference.

“I want everyone to know that all police departments in the Lower Mainland are working together, supporting each other in their investigations, sharing information, and this is our top priority.”

There was also a targeted attack Sunday in Burnaby on a woman who is expected to survive and a fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man in Surrey, B.C., on Friday.

Dubord says the killing of provincial corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, has all the markings of a gang attack, specifically in the way it was carried out and the torching of a vehicle soon after.

However, he said investigators have not confirmed that link and are exploring all possible motives.

The recent shootings show a “shocking” disregard for public safety, but he assured residents that the community remains safe and solving the crimes is a top priority.

“We’re here to say this is a safe community,” he said.

Dubord also asked members of the public to submit photo or video evidence through a new portal on the department’s website that allows individuals to share information without handing their devices over to police.

The victim of the second shopping-mall shooting has not been identified, but RCMP have said it does not appear random. There is no information linking the shooting of the woman in Burnaby to the gang conflict, they have also said.

Although public shootings support the perception of escalating violence, the statistics don’t necessarily support that, a spokeswoman for British Columbia’s anti-gang unit said.

“It’s obviously concerning when we see very brazen acts of violence in a public setting, which puts the public at risk. However, I can say it’s not something new,” Sgt. Brenda Winpenny of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. said.

The unit’s new chief officer, Asst. Commissioner Manny Mann, said during a news conference April 22 that annual gang killings had declined between 2017 and 2020 from 49 to 23. There had been 15 gang-related homicides in 2021, he said.

Winpenny did not immediately have an updated figure, but she noted it can take time to link a death to the gang conflict.

On the whole, public violence can happen for several reasons, including retaliation or competition with rival gangs.

The gang landscape has evolved in recent years, with smaller groups working under larger criminal organizations, and younger people getting involved, she said.

Individuals change allegiances and alliances, which causes turmoil and conflict, she added.

“When rival gangs are taking an opportunity to target another individual from a different gang, they don’t care where it happens. They’ll take the opportunity when it presents itself,” Winpenny said.

“They don’t have any regard for anyone’s safety, which is obviously a concern.”

It reinforces the importance of education and the agency’s End Gang Life program, among other preventive measures, she said.

Keiron McConnell, a Lower Mainland police officer and lecturer on organized crime at Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, also said public violence isn’t new.

Between 2003 and 2013, roughly 86 per cent of gang homicides in the region occurred in public settings, he said.

Apparent crime spikes are really part of a longer cycle, he added.

“I think it’s like a wave, it comes, it goes. Conflicts occur, conflicts calm down,” he said.

One thing that could be influencing the current conflict is the rise in illicit drug prices, he said.

It means gangs are selling in smaller quantities to lower the possible cost of being ripped off or intercepted by police. But it also means more point-of-sale transactions, and more opportunities to disrupt one another’s transactions, he said.

From McConnell’s perspective, it’s wrong to suggest nothing is being done to prevent the gang violence. There are many effective programs in the region, such as Safer Schools Together and Yo Bro / Yo Girl youth programs, he said.

“We don’t know what it would be like if we didn’t have these programs, it could be a whole lot worse.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Shooting

Just Posted

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read