Jaskarn Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran Singh Bhangal, 17 were killed Monday night in South Surrey. (Aaron Hinks photo/RCMP handouts)

Premier’s discussion of teens murdered in South Surrey turns to ‘gang lifestyle’

Horgan focuses on issue in response to public-safety question

B.C.’s leader says kids headed for the gang lifestyle need to know they have the option for “a better life and a better way forward.”

The comment was among those offered by Premier John Horgan at the end of a news conference that was held Thursday to announce 10 ‘urgent primary care centres’ for B.C., including one for Surrey.

Questions turned to issues of public safety, and Horgan was asked – with reference to Monday’s double-homicide in South Surrey in which two teen boys were shot to death – about increasing police presence in schools.

Horgan noted that solicitor general and public safety Minister Mike Farnworth was to discuss the Wraparound (WRAP) program at Princess Margaret Secondary that afternoon; a program “we’ve put dedicated funding to, to try and divert kids out of the gang lifestyle.”

“We don’t know with any certainty….. Police haven’t revealed details around the two young men that lost their lives to gun violence this week. We don’t know the circumstances. I’ll await some determination from law enforcement on that,” he said.

“But we’re doing everything we can to protect and promote the people, not just in Surrey but right across B.C. That means working with law enforcement. Minister Farnworth is at the ready. If the various organizations within the law-enforcement community need more resources, they know his number.”

The bodies of Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran (Jesse) Singh Bhangal, 17, were found around 10:30 p.m. Monday on 40 Avenue near 192 Street. Police said the murders appear to have been targeted and that the victims were not known to police.

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Cpl. Frank Jang has said investigators are looking into every possible motive, including if the killings were connected to drug or gang violence.

Supports have been put in place for students and staff at the Surrey high schools the boys had attended.

Thursday, an effort to help Jhutty’s family was launched through gofundme. It raised more than $6,300 in its first 24 hours.

“We see the stories the press portray about Jason and how he died but what you don’t know is this close-knit family is no stranger to loss,” an explanation on the page states. “Jason’s dad suffered a stroke rendering him unable to work. Jason’s mom, older brother and sister work to support the family.

“We can’t answer the questions the Jhutty’s have, we can’t release them of their pain but we can help by relieving some financial burden from the Jhutty’s to cover costs associated with funeral and memorial services for Jason.”

Horgan predicted the boys’ deaths likely wouldn’t be the last.

He said that the province is waiting for federal monies for getting illegal firearms out of communities to be allocated, and pointed to B.C.’s gangs and guns taskforce.

“We need to make sure there are more people on the ground, to be sure. But we also have to give kids an option,” he said. “That’s why investing in public education is the start of a solution, and we’re hopeful that families will understand and work with us.

“Certainly our hearts go out to the families that lost their loved ones this week, and we want to see that not happen again. But I regrettably may well find myself before a camera in the future having to say the same thing.

“We want to do our level best to make sure that government’s doing everything that they can to give law enforcement the tools, to give families the resources they need to keep their kids out of the gang lifestyle.”

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