Suspect in fatal shooting faces judge nine years later

Surrey’s Halane family received another knock at their door, late Friday night. The last time police came calling, in 2006, it was to tell them their beloved Mahdi, 18, had just been shot in a drive-by shooting in Whalley.

Nine years later, Sgt. Mike Hall was again at their door, this time bearing news that an arrest had been made.

"I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet," Juweria Halane, Mahdi’s sister, told the Now on Monday.

"It would have been better if Mahdi were here to hear this."

Fushpinder Singh Brar, 30, from Surrey is charged with manslaughter in the Oct. 14, 2006 shooting.

Brar was arrested in Vancouver on Friday. Insp. Manny Mann, of Surrey RCMP’s Major Crime Section, said it was "a direct result of investigators following up on leads and new information received, and we hope it will bring some closure to the family."

The Halane family was preparing to head over to Surrey provincial court Monday morning, after the Now’s press time, for Brar’s first court appearance.

Juweria said she was "very nervous" about seeing the suspect for the first time as her family had never heard of him until now.

She’s still in shock, she said, at how her brother’s paralysis and ultimately his death stemmed from something so "stupid, idiotic."

Her brother was a tall, athletic young man who loved basketball. Filled with life, he was a practical joker who easily made friends.

"He was just like a typical brother who annoyed you when things went wrong and kind of was there to support you when you needed him too," Juweria told the Now this past December, when the newspaper published an in-depth report on Mahdi’s case entitled, "A Surrey family’s dream destroyed."

Sgt. Hall, in charge of Surrey RCMP’s Unsolved Homicides Unit, said Monday the Now’s story proved "very valuable to the investigation."

"What it did was it made it (the crime) relevant again. It helped people remember."

Hall has been on the case since the night of the shooting and said police believe Mahdi was an innocent victim.

They also believe there are other people who were either involved in the shooting or who have "very important" information about it, who have yet to speak with police. Hall can be reached at 604-599-7634.

Mahdi’s mom Safia and dad Osman brought their five children to Canada in 1997, from war-torn Somalia, hoping for a prosperous future for them here.

The Queen Elizabeth Secondary grad was out celebrating a friend’s birthday when they came across another group of friends who’d been in a fight at the Chevron gas station at 96th Avenue and 128th Street in Cedar Hills.

Police say the fight started after a man from another group spat and some of his spit hit the pant leg of one of Halane’s friends.

Halane was down the street, in a different car, and had nothing to do with the gas station incident. He apparently looked up from his front passenger seat, as bullets flew from a passing car, and was hit in the neck, severing his spinal cord and rendering him quadriplegic until he died of kidney failure on March 25, 2012, at the age of 24.

Osman Halane said his son hovered "between death and life for six years."

"For six years he was paralyzed, and he died," Osman told the Now in December, contemplating the horror of his son’s fate.

"A lot of disaster we passed, and nightmare."

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com