SURREY — A Cloverdale man shot dead in his driveway last month was not involved in crime and was an innocent victim of mistaken identity, homicide investigators said Thursday.
“An innocent man lost his life,” said Cpl Frank Jang of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT). “An unintended victim of a targeted shooting.”
Paul Bennett, 47, a hockey coach and operating-room nurse, was killed on the afternoon of June 23 in the 18200-block of 67A Avenue.
During a press conference at BC RCMP headquarters on Green Timbers Way in Surrey, Jang told media IHIT is making Bennett’s murder a top priority.
“Someone out there is responsible for his murder and we’re going to do our utmost to find that person.”
Bennett’s wife Darlene, made a tearful plea for help in finding her husband’s killer.
“We remember Paul’s life as a husband, father, brother and son,” she said, with Paul’s sister Jackie Arthur standing next to her in support. “He wore his heart on his sleeve and was a presence in the room.
“We never not thought he would die in such a senseless and violent way. There was a complete disregard to public safety as he was murdered in a quiet residential area.”
“Paul spent his life helping others,” she said, crying. “Now please help Paul and our family find the closure we need to move forward.”
During the press conference, police played a surveillance video of the suspect’s car driving away from Bennett’s home.
There have been no arrests made and no one has been charged in connection with Bennett’s murder.
Meanwhile, a Celebration of Life is planned for Bennett. The memorial event will take place Friday afternoon (July 20) at Newlands Golf & Country Club in Langley, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Bennett’s family has extended an invitation to members of Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association, for which Bennett coached an Atom team last season.
“The day will be about sharing fond memories and stories of Paul and his impact on all of the lives that he touched,” association president Marty Jones wrote in a Facebook post.
“We would encourage Colts players to wear either their Colts jackets or Colts practice jerseys to identify themselves as members of the Colts. Members of Paul’s former teams are encouraged to wear those jerseys.”
An online fundraiser in Bennett’s name has raised more than $43,000 in 24 days. The “Paul Bennett (In Memory)” page at gofundme.com, launched by friend and co-worker Tammy Larson, has collected donations from more than 300 people since it was created on June 24 with a goal of raising $50,000 to “help his family when they are going to need it most.”
Bennett worked as an operating-room nurse department manager at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock. Eleven days before he died, Bennett was featured in a video posted by Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, explaining “the ABCs of laparoscopic surgery.”
In the days following his death, foundation executive director Stephanie Beck said Bennett was considered exemplary by foundation staff and hospital staff alike.
“He was so well-respected in the hospital, a superstar in the OR,” Beck said. “He was extraordinary.”