Just hours after police announced a drug turf battle is behind a spate of brazen shootings, Surrey’s incident total climbed another notch.
Police have confirmed that several witnesses called 911 around 1 a.m. Wednesday, reporting an exchange of gunfire between a red pick-up truck and a grey SUV westbound on 66 Avenue at 128 Street.
Shell casings were recovered from the scene. Police have no evidence that anyone was injured in the incident.
It brings to 20 the number of shooting incidents that have been logged in Surrey and Delta since March 9.
As of The Leader’s press deadline Wednesday, there have been 17 incidents in Surrey and three in Delta), and police say, while not conclusively linked to previous gunplay, the latest shooting “appears to be along the same line as the others.”
“Our serious crime unit is investigating the incident and will be in the area (Wednesday) canvassing for information,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said. “Additionally, our forensic unit is processing a number of pieces of evidence gathered from the scene.”
It was just hours earlier, on Tuesday afternoon, that Surrey RCMP and Delta police announced rivalling groups of South Asians and Somalians were responsible for the shootings that have plagued the two cities for nearly a month.
“We believe these two groups are competing over drug turf and have chosen to resolve their differences in a way that jeopardizes public safety,” Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy told reporters.
The drug turf battle has resulted in several people being shot – many of those mocking investigators from hospital beds.
“Don’t worry about it, no need for you cops to be here,” said one.
Another said, “I will take care of it myself.”
One even taunted investigators by saying he was injured when “bullets fell from the sky.”
The rash of violence has prompted the RCMP and Delta police to release the names and images of several people – many of them who had been shot – in hopes someone will be able to let police know about their activities.
On March 12, police released the identities of five men who were associated with the shootings – many of them victims.
Fordy said since then, police have received several tips, identified several others believed to be involved in the shootings, recovered one of the vehicles, and arrested one man.
That was Delta’s Arman Dhatt, who was charged with 12 firearms and drug-related offenses.
Police continue to investigate what role, if any, he had in the shootings.
On Tuesday, police released names and photos of eight more men, all but one of them a victim of gunshot wounds.
They include: Surrey residents Adam Lakatos, Derrick Bequette, Chadanjot Gill, Sukhraj Chahal, Tirath Taggar and Charandeep Tiwana, and Delta residents Shakeil Basra and Sukhpreet Pansal.
Police are asking anyone with information on any of these shootings or on the activities of any of these people to contact the Surrey RCMP, the Delta Police, or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
– with files from Tracy Holmes