BRITISH COLUMBIA

Surrey Shootings Related To New Gang War, Say Police

04/14/2015 06:02 EDT | Updated 06/14/2015 05:59 EDT
Surrey RCMP
SURREY, B.C. - The bullets fell from the sky.

Police say that's just one of several flippant explanations offered to authorities from those targeted in a callous spate of shootings that have been frightening residents east of Vancouver in the past five weeks.

Police in Surrey and Delta declared on Tuesday that two ethnic gangs warring for territory in low-level drug trafficking are responsible for the staccato of violence.

In a rare move, authorities have released the names and photos of victims in the shootings, asking for the public's help for the safety of residents and because they say no one is co-operating in their investigations.

Mounties have determined 11 of 19 shootings that have sent bullets into homes and vehicles are related to groups of South Asia and Somalian descent. No one has died.

"We believe these two groups are competing over turf and have chosen to jeopardize public safety in that process," said Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, with Surrey RCMP.

Police have arrested one person, Delta resident Arman Dhatt, 18, and charged him with 12 firearms and drug trafficking offences. They've also seized one suspect vehicle.

Fordy said in a statement to media that police are using overt and covert techniques to gather intelligence and evidence, and many tips have helped them to identify several previously unknown people related to the gangs.

But Fordy said the victims who have been questioned by police have only provided replies such as, "I will take care of it myself," and "Don't you worry about it. No need for you cops to be here."

He said the two sides are determined to settle their differences outside of the law.

"As you can imagine, this lack of co-operation has significantly impacted our ability to make any arrests," Fordy said.

The recent attacks began March 9, when a 20-year-old man was dropped off at a Surrey hospital suffering gunshot wounds. They weren't able to figure out what happened and the man was released.

Within two days, a series of five more shooting incidents erupted including a drive-by involving two cars unleashing bullets at four men in another car. One victim was shot in the neck.

Police held a news conference on March 12 that helped them identify eight more men who they say were either victims or intended victims.

None of the men has come forward with information and now they are publicizing their names and photographs, police say.

The names released by police are Adam Lakatos, Derrick Bequette, Chadanjot Gill, Shakiel Basra, Sukhpreet Pansal, Sukhraj Chahal, Tirath Taggar and Charandeep Tiwana, all from Surrey or Delta.

Those names are combined with a list of five other men police identified during a news conference last month.

Fordy asked members of the public to contact police if they know anything about any of the shootings.

Acting Chief Lyle Beaudoin, of the Delta Police Department, said "the brazen nature of the shootings in residential and other public locations where members of the community should feel safe is hugely concerning and our utmost priority."

Fordy said police are speaking to elders and leaders in the Somali and Sikh communities, have gotten involved in a Sikh youth pilot program in area temples and have interviewed many of the men's family members.

A record-high number of murders in 2013 prompted the City of Surrey to create a crime task force asked to find solutions to the municipality's high crime rate.

The team recommended adding 24 police officers over two years and a bike squad, expanding the surveillance camera program and using licence plate readers to identify stolen cars.

RCMP released these photos of people they say were shooting victims or intended targets:

surrey shootings 2015

surrey shootings 2015

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