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Rental car business owner ‘shocked’ after vehicle connected to double shooting in Burnaby

Click to play video: 'New details on suspect vehicle in Highway 1 shooting'
New details on suspect vehicle in Highway 1 shooting
New details are emerging about the vehicle used in a brazen shooting on Highway 1 over the weekend. Global News has learned the suspect vehicle was owned by a Coquitlam car dealership and had been rented out just before the deadly shooting. Christa Dao reports – Aug 8, 2022

A business owner in Metro Vancouver said he was “shocked” to find out one of his rental vehicles was connected to a brazen double shooting in Burnaby over the weekend.

Jonathon Gagnon, owner of the YVR Used Car Gallery, confirmed his black Mercedes-Benz GLC was found ablaze on Saturday, shortly after two people were shot on Highway 1.

Gagnon said the person who rented the vehicle had messaged him through the car-sharing app he used to rent it — Turo — to tell him he had been carjacked. The vehicle had been rented until Wednesday.

“I was shocked to be honest with you,” Gagnon told Global News on Monday. “The customer himself seemed like a very nice fella. He was an older gentleman. It was just a regular day in the car rental, car sales business.”

Read more: One dead after brazen Highway 1 double shooting in Burnaby, B.C., police say

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Eighteen-year-old Meysam Zaki was killed in the shooting. He was a passenger in the vehicle. The driver was also shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The attack took place in the area of the Kensington overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway, around 2:30 p.m. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is investigating, and for the moment, believes it was a targeted shooting related to an ongoing gang conflict.

Shortly after the shooting, a black SUV was found on fire on Eastlawn Drive in the Brentwood neighbourhood. Investigators believe it is the suspect vehicle.

Click to play video: 'One dead after double shooting on Highway 1 in Burnaby, B.C.'
One dead after double shooting on Highway 1 in Burnaby, B.C.

That vehicle’s license plate matches the one of the GLC on Gagnon’s website, and he confirmed that police approached him over the weekend to tell him one of his vehicles was involved in a “major crime.”

“I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know a car could light up like that. It was sad because it was nice car,” he said. “(Police) were very vague on what happened. We just knew what car it was.”

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Read more: Growing concern over ‘trend’ of young men involved in gang and gun violence

Global News reached the customer who rented the vehicle. He declined to appear on camera, but said he was carjacked by three people. He claimed he was lost, told to leave the car, and was “shocked” to later learn it was linked to the shooting.

In a written statement, Turo — the carsharing app he used — said it was “distressed” to learn that one of its host’s vehicles was involved in a crime.

“We have taken immediate steps to support our affected customers and our team is actively cooperating with law enforcement,” the company wrote.

“While these sorts of incidents are extremely uncommon in our marketplace, our support team is always prepared to make things right for our customers when incidents do occur.”

The company said such incidents are “uncommon” in its marketplace, and it has strong safety screening processes in place.

Click to play video: 'Youth gang prevention programs aims to keep young people out of trouble'
Youth gang prevention programs aims to keep young people out of trouble

The vehicle, which had low mileage and was in “pristine condition,” had been booked by several other customers this summer, and was set to be sold in the fall, Gagnon added.

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The business owner said between his two locations — Vancouver and Coquitlam — there have been six “incidents” impacting his stock, and no arrests have been made.

“Every time we have an incident like this it just drives up the cost for everybody,” he said. “Now we have to worry about cars being stolen this way as opposed to stolen on the lot … this has taken it to a new extreme.”

Read more: Suspect charged in downtown Vancouver machete attack that injured 4

Including this latest shooting, there have now been three gang-related shootings in the Lower Mainland in the past three weekends.

Police said they released the name of the homicide victim, Zaki, in the hope that witnesses could help them build “a timeline of his whereabouts” in the hours leading up to the shooting.

“Any associates of Mr. Zaki or the second victim are urged to speak with police. IHIT is committed to bringing justice for this young man’s family,” said IHIT’s Sgt. Timothy Pierotti on Sunday.

Anyone with potential information or dashcam footage from the area is being asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448.

— With files from Darrian Matassa-Fung

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