Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)

COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

An expert on gangs says the very public nature of a recent series of shootings in Metro Vancouver may be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, with rivals striking at the first chance they get.

Martin Bouchard, a professor in Simon Fraser University’s school of criminology, says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings.

He says gang violence follows its own course regardless of what the initial motive was for the conflict.

The comments come as police leaders meet today with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about the shootings that have left gang members dead or injured on streets, in mall parking lots and at Vancouver’s airport.

Farnworth says he expects to get an assessment of the situation from police leaders and determine what additional steps, if any, are required.

Supt. Dave Chauhan, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, says there could be many reasons for the conflict, including personal vendettas or drugs and territorial disputes.

He says the police are seeing more young people forming gangs and that there are splinter groups from those leading to multiple gangs.

Premier John Horgan said this week the government wants to make sure that they’re “focused like a laser” on addressing criminality.

“The first order of business of course is to stop the flow of young people into the gang lifestyle,” he said Tuesday.

“But clearly the brazen nature of the violence we’ve seen over the past two weeks requires law enforcement intervention.”

Bouchard says he’s confident police have a good handle on the situation.

“And they know that as the age of the victims gets younger, they need to innovate in terms of their ability to get inside (the gangs).”

This means that informants need to be younger and the police also have to have experts who can find information online.

“And my sense is that the analysts and sometimes civilians working for law enforcement are getting better and better at finding information on these people online through open source intelligence methods,” Bouchard says.

He says these gang conflicts tend to go in cycles and once they start, they take on a life of their own.

“Sometimes these start based on perception of disrespect between two people,” he says.

“It could be, you know, a romantic relationship gone wrong. Regardless of the initial motive, we are in a cycle of retaliation. It will follow its course to its — hopefully — conclusion very soon.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

crime

Just Posted

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Pier has reportedly been unused for a long time

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Most Read