Neighbours decry area’s decline after Newton man killed

NEWTON – A man is dead and another is in custody following an incident in Newton Tuesday afternoon.

Just after 1 p.m., Surrey RCMP received calls reporting a “dispute” and what sounded like gunshots being fired in 14000-block of 60th Avenue.

There, they found a man who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police also say it is likely the victim knew the man in custody.

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team couldn’t confirm witness reports at the time that said two individuals were seen arguing outside before shots were heard.

An autopsy is still needed before police can confirm cause of death.

This is Surrey’s 11th homicide of 2014. Neighbours in the area say the transient population has increased in recent years.

“It’s a lot busier. More transient people hanging around,” Ruben Urrutia said of his neighbourhood, which he’s lived in for 14 years. “It’s not that quiet anymore.”

Urrutia said a lot of properties have been sold in the neighbourhood and are still waiting to be developed. While the properties sit, they’re often rented to lessthan- desirable tenants, he said.

Residents Judith and Victor Chan have lived in the area for three decades. They agreed the transient population has increased and said halfway homes have become a problem for the community.

“There’s been a lot of talk about illegal drugs, selling and buying, going on in the area and halfway houses,” said Judith. “Definitely, this was a very quiet community. Over the years now, everything is kind of pushed over this way.”

Asked if crime had increased in the area, Judith said there have been a few burglaries. Their home was broken into about eight months ago, and a neighbour’s 10 days later.

“Breaking in is one thing. Murder is another kettle of fish,” Judith said. “It’s scary.”

Victor said the area used to be a “really nice” neighbourhood, made up of one-or two-acre lots. “Now it’s nine or 10 houses an acre,” he added.

Asked if he was surprised to see a homicide occur within eyeshot of his home, Victor said “Well, I guess, you know, this is Surrey.”

Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team at 1-877-551-4448. With files from The Province