BRITISH COLUMBIA

Surrey Shootings: More Gunshots Fired Hours After RCMP Warn Of New Gang War

04/15/2015 01:26 EDT | Updated 06/15/2015 05:59 EDT
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SURREY, B.C. - Police say public safety is their top concern after another brazen shooting in Surrey, B.C., just hours after officers revealed that gang rivalry is involved in a number of similar incidents.

Surrey RCMP received several calls at about 1 a.m. Wednesday from witnesses who saw occupants of a red pickup and a grey SUV shooting at each other while driving westbound near a secondary school.

Cpl. Bert Paquet said it's too early to confirm if the drive-by shooting is linked to a recent spate of gunfire in Surrey and nearby Delta, B.C., but it's certainly along the same lines.

"It's very fortunate that there have been no injuries suffered by innocent bystanders," he said. "But we're certainly trying to stop these incidents before that worst case scenario happens."

Mounties said a turf war between groups of people of South Asian and Somali descent is responsible for 11 of the 19 shootings that have unleashed bullets into homes and vehicles in the region east of Vancouver.

No one has died in the shootings. Paquet said there have been no reports of injuries from the latest round of gunfire and officers are still looking for the vehicles involved.

About 12 hours before Wednesday's shooting, Surrey RCMP released the names and photos of victims in some of the shootings. They asked for the public's help for the safety of residents and because they said no one is co-operating in their investigations.

Paquet said the conflict is related to low-level drug trafficking, but doesn't believe that it was spurred by a recent drug bust or other police actions.

"We don't think this is a direct result of a significant drug seizure or seizure of money," he said. "We do those on a regular basis throughout every week and every month of every year without leading to a violent incident in our city."

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

Mounties have said officers 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.

Paquet said those involved are "young men" and — though he doubts they will listen — he wants to send a message to them that they need to change their behaviour.

"The outcome for them is never good in this line of activities. You will get hurt, or you will get killed, or you will end up in jail. If the behaviours do not change, there's not a lot of hope for these young men," he said.

"But again because they are young, we're always hoping that a conversation with a family member or a good friend might be what's going to send them in the right direction."

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