NEWTON — Community advocates say it’s hard to take the accusation that they are exaggerating the area’s crime problem. Especially after four shootings occur in the neighbourhood in less than two days.
Doug Elford with the Newton Community Association said the rash of shootings this week “has all the indications of a gang-style war.”
“That’s a concern to us because we’re worried about innocent people getting caught in the crossfire with these rolling gun battles. This seems like the next generation coming along, trying to mark their turf. The Surrey RCMP has called the gang squad in, so I think they’re thinking that, too.
“Hopefully they can get in front of this.”
Elford expects the shooters to continue until they “eliminate each other.”
“It’s brazen acts of violence, sometimes in the middle of the day. Obviously these guys don’t have concern for anybody,” he said.
His son was hanging out at a friend’s house Monday near the locations of two of Tuesday’s shooting.
“I worry about my own family walking out and about. Everybody’s out doing their business and it’s wrong,” he stressed. “You go for coffee, you have to have your eyes up and be looking around. We’re asking people if they see anything out of the ordinary to phone it in.”
According to Elford, petty crime is also still an ongoing problem for Newton. “We’ve had a rash of thefts in our neighbourhood, personally, my neighbours. That’s why it’s difficult to swallow when people say we’re blowing things up. We’re still experiencing crime at the lower level and now at the higher level as well.”
Newton shooting An officer recovers a bullet casing at the scene of the latest shooting in Newton, Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Elford said Mayor Linda Hepner “doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem in Surrey with crime.” “She just seems to think we’re inflating the problems and that it’s not such a bad place to live. But when it happens in our neighbourhood, we’d like to hear something from the people that run the city.”
Mayor Hepner was not available for comment.
Coun. Bruce Hayne said the rash of shootings is “disturbing” and “unacceptable” and those responsible seem to have a “lack of respect for human life.”
He said a tremendous amount of police resources are being put towards the problem.
Asked what he says to those concerned about Newton’s crime problem, Hayne noted there have been shootings all over the Lower Mainland in the first quarter of the year, pointing to Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver.
“It’s certainly not exclusive to Newton, but having three or four incidents in such a short space of time in one community is certainly troubling,” he said.
“We are waiting for the first arrival of 30 new officers that are coming from depot, and 100 more this year. I would imagine that a good number of those officers will be deployed in the areas in greatest need,” he said. “Beyond that, because these are seemingly targeted hits, the public is not imminently in danger. These are not random acts of violence…. But the fact that it wasn’t just a random act doesn’t make it any less jarring to see and hear those things happening in one’s neighbourhood.”
Hayne said “back in the day” a fight was two people duking it out in a bar parking lot.
“Now that turns into stabbings and shootings and retaliation. It’s so sad,” he stressed. “It’s a societal issue, it’s not in one area or any one group. I think this is indicative of that, so we’ve got to get a lid on this current tit for tat retaliation things that’s clearly going on.”
Community advocate Naida Robinson says she’s frustrated.
“It seems like when we get a lull in public crime — the higher profile stuff — it’s immediately forgotten and nothing, no change,” she said.
“It just keeps happening over and over again. It seems like we’re getting fed lines all the time,” she added. “Once again, we’re having discussions we had three months ago.”
Robinson wants a member of the public to be posted to the city’s police committee.
“People aren’t feeling heard and/or represented. Granted, our mayor and councillors are supposed to represent us but I don’t think they’re doing a very good job. Not in the eyes of the public. I think the community deserves a voice at the table.”
Like Elford, Robinson says it’s inevitable that an innocent bystander is going to get hurt.
“Bullets do not have DNA detectors. Somebody is going to be shot. Is it going to be a kid in a stroller? Is it going to be a grandma doing her one-mile walk? It isn’t just going to be these gangsters shooting each other. “Bullets are flying as they’re driving down the road,” she stressed. “It’s scary and again, it’s in Newton. Can we please, please start understanding that we have a problem in Newton? I get that Surrey as a whole has a crime problem, but it is Newton, Newton, Newton over and over again.”
Meanwhile, Surrey RCMP are investigating two more shootings as of Thursday, bringing the total up to six. In the fifth, one man was found suffering from a gunshot wound in Clayton, near 193rd Street and 80th Avenue, just before midnight Wednesday while the sixth shooting was at a residence near 94th Avenue and 126th Street at around 3:30 a.m. Police do not believe the sixth shooting is related to the others and nobody was injured.
Police suspect he was shot outside of Surrey.
SHOOTINGS IN SURREY THIS WEEK:
— On Tuesday, March 10 police were called to Surrey Memorial Hospital at 4 a.m. to find a man suffering from gunshot wounds.
— A second shooting happened at roughly 7 p.m., also on March 10, near 127th Street and 78th Avenue. Witnesses told police a vehicle pulled up alongside a black vehicle and shots were fired, striking a 21-year-old Surrey man who was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition.
— A third shooting happened hours later, at 11 p.m. on March 10. Police responded to calls of shots fired near 128th Street and 76th Avenue. Several vehicles sped away from the scene but there were no apparent victims.
— On Wednesday, March 11 police responded to reports of shots fired near 80th Avenue and 132nd Street at roughly 2 p.m. Shell casings were found at the scene. Witnesses say they saw a white SUV chasing a black Acura.
— Just before midnight Wednesday police found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in Clayton. Surrey RCMP are investigating but suspect he was shot outside of Surrey.
— On March 12, at 3:30 a.m., shots were fired at a residence near 94th Avenue and 126th Street. Police don’t think this is related to the other shootings. There have been no reports of injuries.