Top police officials in British Columbia are trying to reassure the public about safety after a gang war left two men dead and an innocent bystander hurt this weekend.
There have been 10 shootings in Metro Vancouver in recent weeks, many of them during daylight hours, and two in mall parking lots filled with vehicles and pedestrians.
“Police will never stop in our pursuit of bringing these individuals to justice,” RCMP Asst. Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said during a joint news conference with other police agencies from the region.
“We are committed and we will be relentless in our hunt.”
Ahmed Tahir has been charged with first-degree murder for a shooting in Burnaby on Saturday that left Toni Dalipi, 19, dead and injured the bystander, who is expected to recover, officers said Monday.
Dalipi died in hospital from injuries and the bystander was treated for gunshot wounds that aren’t considered life-threatening.
“This individual is an innocent victim and he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Dave Chauhan, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigations Team.
Officers also identified the victim of a shooting Sunday outside Vancouver’s airport as Karman Grewal, 28. A police chase of a suspect vehicle ended when an occupant shot the police cruiser.
Officers have linked both shootings to the gang conflict but declined to say exactly which gangs are responsible.
Police agencies across the Lower Mainland are working together and sharing information, but they may be legally bound not to identify victims or suspects publicly before they are charged, McDonald said.
However, many of the suspects in the gang conflict are well known to police and there are ways police can “get on them,” he said, for example by watching closely for breaches of court orders such as curfews, driving prohibitions or firearms prohibitions.
When officers see a breach, they will make an arrest, he said.
When violence happens in public spaces, it only strengthens officer resolve to put an end to it, he added.
“We will do everything we can within the limits of the law to put a wet blanket on the activities of these individuals and we will do it in concert,” McDonald said.
Representatives from the police agencies will meet Tuesday with Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, to lay out their plan to crack down on the gang conflict.
The National Police Federation issued a statement Monday calling on the provincial government to give police more resources to fight the problem and to halt recruitment to the new Surrey Police Service, set to replace British Columbia’s largest RCMP detachment.
“Now is not the time to be removing scarce resources from active service in the Lower Mainland,” he said.
Police services across the region, especially RCMP, have been “under-resourced” for far too long, he said, as he called for more funding for anti-gang investigations and other work.
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