Tuesday after the Surrey area suffered a spate of four fatal shootings in four days, the head of Metro Vancouver's regional homicide unit insisted the shootings are completely unrelated and have nothing to do with gangs.
In a pouring rain Tuesday afternoon in Surrey Supt. Dan Malo, of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, told media that investigators have identified the two latest victims — a 20-something man found shot dead in the 9500-block 125th Street in Surrey at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and a 38-year-old Langley man found shot dead in Langley (near Surrey's border) on Boxing Day — but identities won't be released yet.
Tuesday's shooting appears to have been targeted, and investigators are interested in the time gap in which witnesses in a home said they heard shots, but then waited about 60 minutes to report seeing a man down near their home, Malo said.
Malo made the unusual step of meeting reporters to say that although police don't know much about the two latest shootings yet, they are sure gangs are not involved in any of the four shootings. Malo said police want to relieve public fears that this could be a return to the bloody string of retaliation gang shootings seen in 2009.
"This is a big event — you know the community a couple of years ago went through this with a big spike in gang violence, but this isn't what we are talking about," Malo said. "We are talking about four events that are absolutely unrelated. They just happened to happen in a four-day period."
Malo said IHIT is working closely with the Surrey and Langley RCMP detachments to make sure the homicide unit can handle this unusual load of files, happening at an unlikely time.
The holiday shooting spree started in Surrey, one day before Christmas.
Bradley McPherson, 28, of Surrey, died after being shot at a house party in Surrey on Dec. 24. Alok Gupta, 27, of Surrey — an "innocent victim" completely unknown to police according to Malo — died after being shot while working at Ken’s Groceries on the 11000-block 96th Avenue on Christmas Day.
Malo said some of the victims and associates connected to the four Christmastime shootings may be known to police, but stressed again, that does not mean the shootings are related to gangs.
On Tuesday the 9500-block 125th Street was in shock, with neighbours standing in the street or in their yards shaking their heads.
Leticia M. said she heard four shots around 7 a.m.
“We come from L.A. and we know what shots sound like,” she said. “Everyone is shocked. My daughter is scared. We’re like ‘Holy smokes, where is everyone getting these guns?'”
“This is unbelievable,” said Teresa Laursen. Pointing to the road where forensics investigators were standing inspecting the ground near where the dead man was found, she said: “My little boy plays street hockey there all the time. All the homes on this street are full of kids.”
“It’s brutal,” said another neighbour, Sherry McLellan. “Not a very nice Christmas for that guy.”
Dave Bernard, who has lived on the street for 20 years, said he’s never seen violence like this.
Neighbours mentioned the Christmas Day shooting that left a 27-year-old clerk dead about five minutes away at Ken’s Grocery, adding there is a feeling that violence in Surrey is mounting.
Surrey RCMP Staff Sgt. Bruce Anderson said the man in his 20s was found dead just after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday when police responded to a call of a male lying in the road. The caller mentioned hearing what could have been gunshots at about 7:30 a.m. that morning.
The white male was found at the edge of a residential property near the roadway and some bushes, Anderson said.
There were 38 homicides investigated by IHIT in the region in 2010, Malo said, with 31 so far in 2011, including six gang-related homicides.
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