A brazen daytime shooting in a fast-food restaurant parking lot in Nanaimo on Thursday is likely linked to the escalating Lower Mainland gang conflict, RCMP said Saturday.
The killing happened around 3:30 p.m. on May 20, near a Wendy’s at the Rock City Plaza.
Police arrested three suspects at a motel and seized a vehicle a short time afterward, and said they do not believe there is an ongoing risk to the public.
All three have been released pending further investigation.
“We believe this event has a nexus to the ongoing gang-conflict and violence currently plaguing a number of Lower Mainland communities,” Acting Insp. Donovan Tait said in a media release.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks to those alert citizens who contacted the police in a timely fashion providing valuable information to our investigators as this event unfolded, resulting in the arrests that were made.”
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There have been a dozen shootings in the Lower Mainland in recent weeks, many believed to be linked to gang activity, resulting in at least nine deaths.
A number of those killings have taken place in extremely public places, including at the departure terminal of the Vancouver International Airport, outside the Langley Sportsplex and in the parking lots of busy malls.
Thursday’s slaying appears to mark the first time the escalating violence has spilled out of the Lower Mainland.
Police in Nanaimo continue to seek video evidence and are looking to speak with anyone who was in the area of the Rock City Plaza at the time of the shooting, in particular a Caucasian female who was seen walking towards the Jumping Jiminy’s Playground & Café.
Investigators also want to speak with anyone who saw the vehicle they seized, a pearl white 2003 Cadillac Escalade SUV, as well as its occupants, in the days leading up to the killing.