Abbotsford Police (APD) have issued a warning to the public following an escalating gang conflict in the city.
Police say that despite “aggressive enforcement and prevention campaigns,” public safety is at risk due to ongoing gang activity.
“It is not just a possibility that those engaged in the conflict will become victims of the violence but, increasingly, it is a likelihood,” Cst. Ian MacDonald said in a release Friday.
APD says it is rare for the department to issue a warning to friends, families and associates of gang members, but sent a strongly-worded message to those people in the hope it could save lives.
“In the strongest possible terms, we must emphasize that it is not safe to be in the company of those involved in the Lower Mainland gang conflict. Although this may appear to be common-sense advice, we believe that now it could also be a life-saving decision that we need you to make,” APD said.
“When incidents of violence take place on our streets, it puts innocent members of our communities at risk, and when you associate with individuals with ties to organized crime, not only do you jeopardize the safety and security of the public, but also that of your own life,” added Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C.
This comes after a shooting in the city on Tuesday left one 23-year-old man, Satkar Singh Sidhu, dead following a police chase. Police said the incident was linked to gang violence and the victim was targeted.
Three men were taken into custody but released shortly afterwards without charges due to insufficient evidence.
In January, police investigated after two men arrived at a hospital with gunshot wounds. Earlier that month, police also investigated after reports of shots fired at two homes near the 2900-block of Flagman Place.
APD Chief Bob Rich sent letters to the parents of suspected gang members in December 2016, warning them their child’s life is in danger.
“There are parents out there who are not fully aware. There are parents out there who are giving their sons the benefit of the doubt,” MacDonald said in an interview on BC1 after the letter became public.
“What we’re trying to do right now is to prove to them definitively that their kids are involved in this conflict in various ways and we are actively trying to work with them to protect their children.”
APD says two gangs are fighting over who gets to sell illegal drugs in Abbotsford and attributes five murders to the conflict. One victim was an innocent bystander and another of the five killed was an 18-year-old.
–With files from Paula Baker