NEWS

B.C. police probe 5 holiday shootings

12/28/2011 01:21 EST | Updated 02/27/2012 05:12 EST

Police in B.C.'s Lower Mainland continue to investigate five shootings — four of them fatal — over the holidays, which investigators are describing as "separate and tragic events."

The attacks began on Christmas Eve, when 28-year-old Bradley McPherson was shot dead at a house party in Surrey.

On Christmas Day, convenience store clerk Alok Gupta was gunned down in Surrey. Jeremy Olivier Bettan, 38, was killed in his Langley driveway on Boxing Day night and a 28-year-old man was found dead in Surrey Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday, a note and flowers were erected across the street from the convenience store were Gupta was killed, at the home where he ran for help.

"Rest in peace Alok Gupta," the note reads. "As human beings we tried our best to help save his life because he was still breathing but we didn't succeed. We are feeling extremely sad and our care and support goes out to his family."

The note is signed, "Love all the neighbours."

No arrests have been made in any of the fatalities or in connection with a fifth shooting early Christmas morning that left a 54-year-old woman recovering from a chest wound.

Guns used as currency

Investigators believe Tuesday's attack in Surrey was likely targeted, but insist the other shootings are only linked by the fact that they took place during the holiday season.

On Wednesday, police identified the Surrey victim as Apollo-Lyn Simpson, 28.

"It's hard to say what is going on right now but it doesn't appear that these homicides are connected," said Sgt. Jennifer Pound with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Police said none of the incidents appear to be related to organized crime.

Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon said guns are more available than they were before due to a flourishing drug trade and proximity to the U.S. border.

"Certainly the influx of weapons is easier into the Vancouver area than other parts of British Columbia," Gordon said. "The guns are a commodity that are used in the same way that we might use dollars to go and purchase things. It's actually better currency because the guns increase in value once they cross the border."

The Vancouver area Gang Task Force has seized almost three times as many guns so far in 2011 than it did in all of 2010.

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