A 22-year-old Surrey man faces charges of second-degree murder in what RCMP believe was a botched Christmas Day convenience store robbery that claimed the life of a student here from India.
William Andrew Whiteside appeared Friday in Surrey Provincial Court, accused in the Dec. 25, 2011 killing of 27-year-old Alok Gupta.
Gupta, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University business student, had been covering a shift at Ken’s Grocery at 11779 96 Ave. as a favour to the owners.
Whiteside was arrested just four days after the murder on an unrelated matter, police revealed, and has been held in custody ever since.
Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) Insp. Kevin Hackett said other accomplices in the failed robbery could soon face charges as well.
“We do not believe Mr. Whiteside acted alone,” he said. “I’m confident we will make additional arrests.”
Video evidence played a role, but investigators aren’t elaborating or providing details on other evidence that led to charges against Whiteside.
Hackett said Gupta had no involvement in criminal activity and was here on a student visa to study management and marketing at Kwantlen.
“Mr. Gupta was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said, adding there is no evidence to support media speculation that the shooting was racially motivated.
“It’s not like it was a targeted hit,” he added. “The motive was robbery.”
Hackett said police officers have been “deeply affected” by the attack on someone who came to Canada to work hard in school and was providing relief to a family on Christmas.
Officers have worked closely with Gupta’s family in India throughout the investigation and Hackett said they were relieved to receive word charges have now been laid.
For more reaction see the Facebook page Justice for Alok Gupta.
Murder victim Alok Gupta was shot and killed in a convenience store in Surrey on Christmas Day. Photo: Facebook.