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Vancouver shooting fits trend of gangs recruiting inexperienced youth: Expert

Click to play video: 'Police search for suspects in downtown Vancouver shooting'
Police search for suspects in downtown Vancouver shooting
As police continue to search for the suspects in a frightening shooting in downtown Vancouver, experts are weighing in on the recklessness of the shooters, and the miracle that no bystanders were hit – Apr 1, 2024

As police continue to hunt for the suspects in a shocking daylight shooting in downtown Vancouver, officials and experts are weighing in on the dangerous ineptitude of the shooters, and the miracle that innocent bystanders weren’t killed.

Shots rang out shortly before 6 p.m. on Saturday near Robson and Richards streets, in an attack that was captured on camera.

Two mask-clad suspects unloaded a barrage of bullets into a black SUV, which then crashed into another vehicle before its driver fled. The gunmen let loose with another hail of gunfire before running to a getaway vehicle.

At least one bullet penetrated the window of a Tim Hortons cafe.

Click to play video: 'Video captures brazen shooting in downtown Vancouver'
Video captures brazen shooting in downtown Vancouver

“This is my neighbourhood. I could have very easily been walking by,” Vancouver City Coun. Peter Meiszner said.

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“These are the kinds of videos you see in cities, frankly, in third-world countries.”

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Vancouver police believe the attack was targeted, and likely linked to gang activity. Dozens of officers have been assigned to the case.

Kal Dosanjh, CEO and founder of the Kids Play Youth Foundation, which works to keep kids out of gang activity, said the shooting fits a pattern of younger and more inexperienced people being recruited into gang activity.

The shooters, he said, could have been working to pay off a debt or to bolster their street credibility.

“Historically speaking, when you were seeing one major gang versus another, these organized crime syndicates would be hiring professionals to do major hits. That’s not so much the case anymore,” he said.

“We are seeing younger and younger kids getting recruited into gangs because … they are dispensable resources, and because they are naive.”

Click to play video: 'Video captures brazen shooting in downtown Vancouver'
Video captures brazen shooting in downtown Vancouver

Dosanjh said he believes retaliation is “inevitable” but added where, when and how that plays out is hard to predict.

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B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said investigators are taking the case seriously, but need help to put the suspects away.

“Police can do their job but they also need the assistance of the public who may have seen things,” he said.

“These gangsters have families who must know what they are doing and what they are up to. I also think it’s important that they go to police.”

Meiszner said despite the “reckless disregard” shown by the shooters, he believes the city remains safe and that police are working hard to ensure gangsters don’t feel welcome in the city.

He added that he’s confident the suspects will be tracked down but wants to see stiffer sentences for those involved in violent crime.

“We need more consequences for criminals,” he said. “We need people to be in jail.”

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