SURREY, B.C. - The mayor of a Metro Vancouver city plagued by a gang war has implored those shooting at each other to stop before more people are killed, adding police will get the necessary resources to deal with the violence.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was flanked by the area's top officers Monday as politicians and police presented a united front against the suspects behind 22 shootings since March 9 in that city and in neighbouring Delta.
The latest victim was shot a day earlier and identified Monday by provincial NDP Leader John Horgan as the nephew of Harry Bains, one of the party's members of the legislature, whose riding is in Surrey.
Condolences to the family of 22-year-old Arun Bains were the first thing Hepner delivered at the news conference.
"This has to stop before any more lives are lost," she said. "I am imploring those that have been involved in these shootings to take a sober look at the grim reality of your action.
"While you may have been fortunate to escape any serious injury to date, what happened yesterday is a fate that can easily befall you."
Police were called to reports of gunfire early Sunday and found Bains inside a vehicle that had crashed into a pole.
Mounties have said Bains was known to be connected to the street-level drug trade and became the first person to lose his life since the shootings began six weeks ago.
RCMP assistant commissioner Dan Malo said groups of individuals who want to violently take over profits from the drug trade and target vulnerable people are involved.
"What's lost on these individuals' minds is that our citizens have the right to live, have the right to play, and have the right to work in our communities without fear or concern."
He said his plan focuses on community outreach and changing behaviour.
Police will meet with the individuals they believe to be behind the violence and inform them that they will no longer have the right to roam around freely like other citizens.
He said every police officer in the region will be informed about the suspects and that officers will also talk to their family, friends and associates in an effort to convince them to provide investigators with information.
Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, who is in charge of the Surrey RCMP, said police have organized a community meeting at a high school on Tuesday evening.
Police have also set up a tip line for members of the public.
Horgan said in Victoria that he spoke with Harry Bains, who was not at the legislature on Monday.
"He's devastated. His family is trying to figure it out, as all of us would."
Horgan said he will attend the community anti-violence meeting Tuesday.
"Extraordinary efforts may be required to get this under control," he said.
Last week, police released photos of people they identified as victims in some of the shootings. Mounties said they took the unusual step of naming victims because no one was co-operating and public safety was at risk.
— with files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria
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