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Thursday, 18 August 2011

We’re aware that people sense that a gang war is erupting.

19:52 |

“We’re aware that people sense that a gang war is erupting.”

In the Monday shooting, a single attacker believed to be on foot shot at a 32-year-old man as many as eight times as he got into a car, but the man escaped with minor injuries from bursting glass, Thiessen said.

“Based on [the target’s] background, it seems there is a level of gang affiliation,” he said.

Heed said retaliation is inevitable after Sunday’s shooting.

“You don’t take out the elder of the Bacons, you don’t injure a full-patch Hells Angel member and you don’t severely injure the niece of a president of a Hells Angel chapter and expect no retaliation,” Heed said.

To halt that cycle of violence, police need help from families, schools and the community as a whole, both Bhatt and Heed said.

“Police are asking for more resources, and yes, they need more resources. But if that’s all we do, the need for more and more police will simply grow over time,” Bhatt said.

Heed called for a “comprehensive strategy” to combat gangs, including a universal anti-bullying program in schools, early-intervention programs for families and meaningful opportunities for kids to get involved in their community.

“You are not going to arrest your way out of this gang situation that we have,” Heed said. “We’re just reacting to the problem. We’ve reacted to this problem since 1994 here in Vancouver. We still have this absolutely astounding display of public violence on our streets.”

Bhatt is project director for Acting Together, a federally funded research project aimed at preventing youth from joining gangs, based at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

The project has studied 403 Grade 8 students in Surrey and works closely with the Surrey school district’s Wrap Around Program, a one-on-one program that works with at-risk kids.

People working in the program have observed that only children, only sons and oldest sons are the most likely to get into trouble, Bhatt said.

“Essentially, these are these spoiled kids who have a sense of entitlement,” Bhatt said.

Although the first results of Bhatt’s five-year study won’t be released until October, she suggests early results show that kids with a sense of gratitude, altruism and of self-identity are less likely to follow a path of violence.

Bhatt cited a video about gangs made by Surrey high-school students working with Shaw TV and the Acting Together Program that will appear this weekend on Shaw TV as one example of how to meaningfully engage kids.

Meanwhile, Kelowna RCMP investigating this weekend’s fatal shooting are asking anyone with information about a newer, silver/green Ford Explorer seen in Kelowna this past weekend to call them.

Calling it “a vehicle of interest,” police said anyone with any information — where it was, which way it was going, its occupants — should call the Kelowna Detachment at 250-762-3300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-5477.

Police also said the Kelowna investigation is moving forward with “numerous leads” and that the status of the people injured in the shooting is unchanged.

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