Police agencies across the Lower Mainland say they are working closely together to crack down on a recent increase in gun violence across the region.
Police are now facing questions about safety from the public and concerns innocent people could be swept up in the violence. An innocent bystander was shot by a stray bullet during a targeted shooting on Saturday. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“As members of the public, you are undoubtedly and obviously concerned,” BC RCMP Asst. Comm. Dwayne McDonald said at a news conference Monday.
“All branches of police are committed to the safety of everyone and are working to stop this.”
On Sunday, 28-year-old Karman Grewal became the latest victim of gun violence when he was shot and killed outside Vancouver’s International Airport.
Richmond RCMP’s Chief Supt. Will Ng said one of his officers was shot at by someone in the suspect’s vehicle near Sea Island Way and No. 3 Road.
“When criminals commit crime, they don’t play by the rules. They drive at high rates of speed to try and get away,” McDonald said. “We have a responsibility to everybody.
“Unlike the movies, when bullets start to fly, they eventually stop somewhere. We can’t take that chance to have a gun battle rage through the streets. Every decision we make is based on what impact the situation will have on everybody.”
McDonald said all police agencies will be meeting with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
“We will do everything to hit these gangsters at every possible turn,” he said, adding there’s no way of knowing when the gang conflict will end but from a police perspective, it can only end in jail or death for the people involved.
“We are committed and we will be relentless in our hunt,” McDonald said.
When asked which gangs are operating in the Lower Mainland, officials would not identify specific organizations but said there are numerous groups.
“These individuals are, make no mistake about it, vying for control of the drug trade,” McDonald said.
Supt. Graham De La Gorgendiere, acting officer in charge of the Burnaby RCMP, said Monday that police share the public’s anger and frustration.
“What happened this weekend is immensely troubling for all of us and it is simply not acceptable,” he said.
A dedicated gang enforcement team has been operating in Burnaby since January, De La Gorgendiere said.
They work seven days a week and have conducted targeted vehicle checks, seized more than $40,000 in cash, and seized weapons.