Shootings have community on edge

NEWTON – Surrey Mounties are now investigating seven shootings in five days.

None were fatal. Police suspect four are linked and involve people in the low-level drug trade.

The most recent happened 2:30 a.m. Sunday when a house near 94th Avenue and 126th Street in Whalley – the same one that was shot at, at 3:30 a.m. Thursday – was again hit by bullets during a driveby shooting. Nobody was injured in either shooting. Police don’t believe these two are linked to four other shootings in Newton last week.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, police said five young men are believed to be involved in the four “related” shootings in Newton: Sameh Mohammed, 20, of Surrey, Pardip Brar, 20, of Delta, Pardeep Singh, 20, of Surrey, Indervir Johal, 21, of Surrey, and Amrit Kular, 20, of Surrey. Johal and Singh were shot. None have been arrested.

Surrey RCMP Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy said police want to know more about their activities.

“From the intelligence that has been gathered so far, there is nothing to indicate that these incidents are tied to organized gangs,” Fordy said. “However, these people are clearly violent and have shown a complete disregard for public safety.

“For the citizens of Surrey, I offer you my commitment that we are working extremely hard on all of these events,” he added. “Not only to solve the cases that have occured but to safeguard against any further incidents.”

Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne also fielded questions at the press conference. He said Mayor Linda Hepner is “away on city business,” but added, “She shares our concern, she shares our outrage,” and she’s prepared to put every resource available into stopping the gunplay.

“It’s a terrible concern for us, obviously,” Hayne said. “It’s a matter of the safety of our

sons and daughters and our community out there.”

Hepner could not be reached for comment before press time Monday.

Before Thursday’s press conference, Newton advocate Doug Elford said the rash of shootings “has all the indications of a gang-style war.

“We’re worried about innocent people getting caught in the crossfire with these rolling gun battles,” he said. “I worry about my own family walking out and about.”

Elford charged that Hepner “doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem in Surrey with crime.

“She just seems to think we’re inflating the problems and that it’s not such a bad place to live. But when it happens in our neighbourhood, we’d like to hear something from the people that run the city.”

Hayne noted there have been shootings all over the Lower Mainland in the first quarter of the year, pointing to Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver.

“It’s certainly not exclusive to Newton,” he said. “We are waiting for the first arrival

of 30 new officers that are coming from depot, and 100 more this year. I would imagine that a good number of those officers will be deployed in the areas in greatest need,” he said. “Beyond that, because these are seemingly targeted hits, the public is not imminently in danger. These are not random acts of violence… but the fact that it wasn’t just a random act doesn’t make it any less jarring to see and hear those things happening in one’s neighbourhood.”

Hayne said, “We’ve got to get a lid on this current tit-for tat-retaliation things that’s clearly going on.”

Community advocate Naida Robinson echoed Elford’s frustration.

“It seems like when we get a lull in public crime – the higher profile stuff – it’s immediately forgotten and nothing, no change,” she said.

“It just keeps happening over and over again. It seems like we’re getting fed lines all the time,” she added.

“Once again, we’re having discussions we had three months ago.”

Robinson wants a member of the public to be posted to the city’s police committee.

“People aren’t feeling heard and/or represented. Granted, our mayor and councillors are supposed to represent us but I don’t think they’re doing a very good job. Not in the eyes of the public. I think the community deserves a voice at the table.”

Like Elford, Robinson says it’s inevitable that an innocent bystander is going to get hurt.

“Bullets do not have DNA detectors. Somebody is going to be shot. Is it going to be a kid in a stroller? Is it going to be a grandma doing her one-mile walk? It isn’t just going to be these gangsters shooting each other.

“Can we please, please start understanding that we have a problem in Newton? I get that Surrey as a whole has a crime problem, but it is Newton, Newton, Newton over and over again.”

Of the shootings so far, four have been in Newton, two in Whalley, and a 28-yearold Langley man was found suffering from a gun shot wound in Clayton just before midnight Wednesday. Sgt. Dale Carr said this shooting “likely did not happen in Surrey.”

The fourth shooting happened at about 2 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of 80th Avenue and 132nd Street. Carr said a white SUV was spotted chasing a black Acura. “The SUV was seen shooting at the Acura.”

The Surrey RCMP Identification Section cordoned off the area and found a couple shell casings on the pavement.

“It was a busy time of the day, a lot of traffic in the area,” Carr noted.

This fourth shooting – mere blocks away from the others – happened at a busy intersection in broad daylight.

“Absolutely something catastrophic could have happened,” Carr said. “That’s why it’s deeply, deeply concerning to the Surrey RCMP and the community of Surrey.”

-With files from Kristi Alexandra

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