No charges yet in South Surrey parking-lot gunplay

Five men, four boys released after shooting incident damages windows at hotel, seniors home

Nine individuals arrested last week following gunfire outside a South Surrey hotel and retirement home were all released from custody within 24 hours.

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Alanna Dunlop confirmed the release Friday, noting that without charges, the nine – described as five men and four teenaged boys – could not be held. However, it does not mean charges aren’t forthcoming, she said.

“We’re still investigating,” Dunlop told Peace Arch News. “As of two days ago, we were still actually on the scene gathering evidence. I would anticipate there will be some (charges), but it’s still ongoing.”

Police were alerted to gunfire in the parking lot of the Pacific Inn, located at 1160 block of King George Blvd., just after 3 a.m. Nov. 21. Shell casings were located and one hotel guest was treated for injuries suffered when a second-floor window was shattered.

Crescent Gardens windowWhile police at the time would not disclose if a bullet hit the nearby Crescent Gardens Retirement Community – which shares the parking lot with the hotel – Dunlop confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that a fourth-floor window of the home also sustained  “damage” that morning.

Investigation determined the incident was targeted, and that the shots were fired between two vehicles as a result of an altercation. One vehicle was recovered “fairly nearby and shortly thereafter.” Police “strongly believe” a second vehicle that was recovered in another jurisdiction was also involved.

Dunlop would not share what type of vehicles were recovered, or where the second vehicle was found. She did confirm that the second vehicle was found abandoned.

“It was found in another jurisdiction, I can’t elaborate where,” she said Friday. “To police, it was within a timeframe that would have made sense to our investigation.”

Dunlop would also not disclose the ages of those who were arrested, but acknowledged reports have been made that the teens were as young as 13.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” she said of the detail. “I can say that some were young teens.”

Kash Heed, B.C.’s former minister of public safety and solicitor general, was quoted in the  Vancouver Sun the day after the shooting saying that of the nine people arrested, five are students in Surrey schools and one alleged to have had a gun is in Grade 8.

Heed, also a former police officer, was quoted saying three of the accused are involved in the Wrap program – a school district-police partnership which works with at-risk youth to help them stay out of gangs.

Dunlop on Friday agreed it is “concerning” any time younger teens are involved in such incidents, but described making assumptions on what role they may they have played is “jumping to conclusions.”

Dunlop noted speculation around ages and any link to the Wrap program  was addressed by Surrey’s officer in charge, Chief Supt. Dwayne McDonald, following a Nov. 22 press conference on the launch of two public-safety initiatives. (The initiatives include a mobile app for RCMP events, crime mapping, crime prevention and trends, and Project IRIS, for community closed-circuit TV cameras to be registered on an RCMP database).

McDonald told media that the reported information was “factually inaccurate.”

Heed, however, told PAN yesterday that he stands by his comment that those involved were Surrey students and that “nobody’s phoned to correct me on it.”

Investigation of the shooting is being led by the detachment’s Serious Crime Unit. Dunlop appealed to anyone with information regarding what happened who hasn’t already spoken to police to call 604-599-0502.

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