SURREY â€” A former chairwoman of Surrey’s District Parent Advisory Council says that while people are pressuring the RCMP to stop the shootings, the school system and higher levels of government should also be held accountable.
"You’re blaming the wrong people here for the crime problem," said Patricia Enair, who served as DPAC co-chairwoman several years ago. "The crime problem is caused way before any of the shootings on the street. It’s caused in Surrey schools. It is no parental involvement in the schools. The things that go on in the schools…"
Shawn Wilson, chairman of Surrey’s board of education, did not return phone calls by print deadline.
There have been 23 shootings in Surrey and North Delta since the beginning of March and police say some of those are the result of a Somali gang and South Asian gang fighting over drug turf.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner has been under considerable pressure as a result. She said police are doing all they can.
"You can’t simply find a casing on the street and make an arrest," she said.
Enair, who now serves as a Block Watch captain in Whalley, noted that in one high school in North Surrey in 2009, the most popular student of his grad class was killed in a shoot-out on Commercial Drive.
"The most popular kid in the class, who was invited to all of the parties, ended up dead," she noted.
The latest victim in the series of shootings, Bains, 22, was shot dead in Newton on Sunday.
"To say that Arun Bains had friends or associations to the drug industry, 70 per cent of the kids in this city do," Enair said.
Bains’ family has issued a statement that he was not a criminal or a gangster. His uncle, Surrey-Newton NDP MLA Harry Bains, is among those grieving. He has been a strong voice in tackling the social or root causes of crime.
Enair said that "until we start addressing the root causes, we’re just putting too much pressure on the RCMP to perform miracles.
"It’s in the realm of school, bylaw enforcement, the RCMP and the people of this city. Until all those things decide to play together on one team, it’s not going to happen. And they also need support from the provincial and federal government, because the biggest complaint I have is about employment for our kids."
Youth employment programs are being cancelled, she noted, as "they’re bringing people in under the skilled worker program by the thousands.
"The reality is, it’s not just the Somalian and South Asian community. There’s a lot of white kids involved in this, and I do mean a helluva lot. It’s coming down to one very simple fact: they can’t get jobs. And if they can’t get jobs, they cannot feel engaged in the community, because B.C. is very expensive to live in, right? I mean, hugely expensive. If they can’t find something that allows them some sort of freedom, and some sort of money to live on, they’re going to turn to something that is, and I’m sorry, but guns and drugs will do it."
Jasbir Sandhu, NDP MP for Surrey North, slammed Tuesday’s federal budget revealed by the Conservative government. "We’ve got 23 shootings in Surrey," he said, "and the words ‘crime’ and ‘gang’ are not in the budget. "There’s no new money for Surrey for crime prevention. There’s no new money to help Surrey fight gang crime."
Meantime, Harry Bains’ office released the following statement from the Bain’s family late Tuesday afternoon:
"This is an extraordinarily painful time," it reads. "Arun was the heart of our family. We are still trying to accept the reality that our son, brother, cousin, and nephew is gone.
"Arun was not a criminal. He was not a gang member. He was loved by everyone who knew him. Arun was a fine young man who loved his family and had a bright future ahead of him. We want to send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has sent their good wishes to us and included us in their prayers.
"We also thank members of the media for respecting our privacy and allowing us to mourn Arun in peace. We are determined to support our community’s efforts to end this violence and spare another family this pain. We strongly urge anyone with information about this incident or any criminal activity to contact the police immediately."
Arun Bains was shot at about 3 a.m. Sunday, at 126th Street and 88th Avenue.
"Arun Bains is known to be associated to the people connected to the street level drug trade conflict," Sgt. Stephanie Ashton, spokeswoman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said earlier this week.
"People need to remember this is about helping that family find peace," she added.
Harry Bains could not be reached for comment.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr said investigators "now more than ever" need tips from those who have information about the shootings. "We need you to come forward with any little bit of information you may have before another young person in killed," he said.
"Our deep concern now is there may be a retaliation incident," Carr said. "We are appealing to those involved in this ongoing dispute to not take any more lives and to understand that this is more than gunplay, it’s murder."
The Surrey RCMP has set up a tip line dedicated to gathering information about the shootings in Surrey and Delta over the past six weeks. It is 604-915-6566 and will be monitored 24/7.
Police are also investigating a shooting that happened at 11:15 p.m. this past Friday, near 65th Avenue and 121st Street after receiving 911 calls of multiple shots being fired and a dark sedan and newer grey import car leaving the scene.
Meantime, IHIT is investigating a suspicious sudden death at a residence in the 13800-block of Hansen Road in Whalley on Saturday.
"Upon arrival, officers learned a 57-year-old male had been found deceased by his roommates," Ashton said.
She said police arrest a man, interviewed him and released him without charges pending further investigation. They are now awaiting autopsy results, she said Wednesday.
Police are asking anyone who heard a fight in the area, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday, to contact IHIT.
"It is our belief the victim and suspect knew each other," Ashton said.