Two men who were arrested after a drug dealer was gunned down Monday in Maple Ridge have been released from custody without charges.
The men, aged 26 and 27, were held in custody overnight in connection with a shooting that killed Claude Gille Deguire, 26, but released on Tuesday.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen said investigators continue to look for a third man who has yet to be identified.
Deguire, 26, was shot at close-range just before 8 p.m. near Thrifty Foods in Haney Place Mall.
Thiessen said the violence was drug-related. The two men were arrested a short distance away from the mall’s parking lot, on 226th Street near 119th Avenue.
Both are known to police, as was Deguire.
The shooting was the first homicide of the year for Ridge Meadows RCMP and the second fatal shooting at a mall in Metro Vancouver in a week.
Police would not confirm whether Deguire was once associated with the United Nations gang.
John McKenzie, who lives on the south side of Lougheed Highway, was not surprised the murder was connected to the drug trade.
He claims street-level drug dealing is rampant in his neighbourhood.
“They are operating in plain view,” said McKenzie.
“The whole incident [on Monday] started right at the corner. I’ve been dealing with this for 10 years. RCMP have to put more officers in the area.”
Another resident of the neighbourhood, who asked not to be identified, claimed to have witnessed the beginning of a fight that ended with Deguire being shot.
Six guys were ganging up on this one guy, then someone pulled a gun and he ran across the highway.
“I guess they popped him at Thrifty’s,” he added.
However, other residents aren’t ready to blame a lack of police presence for the petty drug dealing in their neighbourhood.
Bill Turner believes Port Haney has improved considerably since the notorious Northumberland Court townhouses, a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes, was torn down.
“There are a few street people around, but it’s not really that bad,” said Turner, who manages the Maple Inn on 224th Street.
Turner often sees undercover officers parked in the area, keeping an eye on the neighbourhood.
“It’s one day at a time. The police are going a good job,” he added.
Ridge Meadows RCMP assure residents that they are well-aware of the neighbourhood’s concerns.
“The Ridge Meadows RCMP’s Street Enforcement Unit is continuously monitoring this area,” said Insp. Dave Fleugel, once again pointing out that police executed search warrants on four known drug houses since fall.
Uniformed officers also patrol Port Haney regularly because it’s identified as a high-crime area.
“Ridge Meadows RCMP will continue to patrol this area in an effort to reduce any drug dealing or other criminal activities, along with enhancing the overall safety for our citizens,” Fleugel added.
• Anyone with information is asked to call the IHIT TIP LINE at 1-877-551-4448 or if you wish to remain anonymous call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.