A man has been charged with murder less than two weeks after a suspected drug dealer was gunned down at a busy Maple Ridge mall.
Edward Marke Antonsen, 29, was arrested by RCMP at his home in Maple Ridge Friday and made a first appearance in court on second-degree murder charges Monday afternoon.
“There were a number of calls from the community who really pulled together on this and led us to who was responsible,” said Sgt. Jennifer Pound with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Claude Gille Deguire, 26, was shot at close range in the parking lot in front of Thrifty Foods at Haney Place Mall on April 29.
Two men, aged 26 and 27, were initially arrested after the shooting, but released from custody without charges, while police sought a third suspect.
Pound said police believe Antonsen was that third suspect.
Police revealed that Antonsen and Deguire were “acquaintances” and that the shooting was part of a dispute over “territory” or “turf”in the street-level drug trade.
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 but believe his death is not connected to a recent spate of gun violence in Metro Vancouver.
“It started off as some argument based on lower level criminal activity, possibly over the drug trade,” said Pound.
“Nothing would suggest it’s more involved or gang or organized crime linked.”
Insp. Dave Fleugel with Ridge Meadows RCMP added the violence connected to Deguire’s death is unusual for Maple Ridge.
“That said, it is clear to me as a police officer, that when people get involved in the illegal distribution of drugs. There’s a level of violence that goes with it,” said Fleugel.
“Rules for people who live that lifestyle become blurry and it doesn’t generally end well for people who are involved in it.”
Downtown residents claim street-level drug dealing is rampant in the area, especially south of Lougheed Highway.
One claimed to have witnessed the beginning of a fight that ended with Deguire being shot.
Six guys were ganging up on this one guy, he said, then someone pulled a gun and he ran across the highway.
Ridge Meadows RCMP have assured residents that they are aware of the neighbourhood concerns.
Uniformed officers patrol Port Haney regularly because it’s identified as a high-crime area.