Shawneen Davenport said she and her granddaughter were on their way home from daycare Sept. 3 when she all the emergency vehicles fly through Fraser Heights.
Davenport said she tries to teach her granddaughter to not be scared of police and that they’re there to help.
But on Sept. 3, around 4:50 p.m., Surrey RCMP responded to reports of shots fired in the 15900-block of 111th Avenue in Fraser Heights.
“But the day this all happened, I had just picked her up from her daycare and as we were approaching home, all these emergency vehicles started coming past us,” Davenport told the Now-Leader during an RCMP neighbourhood outreach event, which is held after a traumatic incident in the community.
“She’s like, ‘Oh no, oh no.’ So I was like, ‘It’s OK, they’re your friends.’ Then there’s more and more and more and I’m trying to remain calm.”
Two men ended up being injured in what police are calling a “targeted” shooting that day.
A Black Press Media freelancer on scene said the “two victims were shot while in a Chrysler 300 that was on 111th Avenue and then sped off and crashed onto the lawn of a home on 150th Street.” Footage from the scene shows the vehicle riddled with bullet holes, sitting on a grass lawn in a residential area.
One of the men, Thomas Gabriel Saul, is a risk to public safety, police warned.
Surrey RCMP said Saul, from New Westminster, has been the “victim or intended victim” of shootings that have happened in Surrey and Burnaby this summer. Police added they believe the incident was connected to drug trafficking in that neighbourhood.
While the violence is throughout the Lower Mainland, Davenport said she doesn’t know what the solution is.
“We are concerned about the problems, but I’m just here to see what they (the police) have to say about it, out of curiosity. Honestly, other than putting up a gate around the whole area and making people show ID when they come in, I don’t see a solution. I have seen the police patrolling the area over the last few months,” she said.
“They’re doing their job, they’re making their presence in the community like they said they were going to, but clearly it’s not stopping anything. It’s not their fault. They’re doing their job.”
Coming to the neighbourhood outreach, Davenport said, was two-fold: to hopefully find out more about what’s going on in Fraser Heights and to make her granddaughter feel comfortable around police again.
“I wanted to bring her here to see the police, to see that everything’s OK after all that. She’s only three (years old). It did affect her at the time, of course it did, it was startling for adults too,” said Davenport, adding that as soon as they walked up to the event, her granddaughter was happy to see the police.
Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko said the outreach events are for people to come with questions, concerns or “some people just need someone to vent” to.
“We expect all these things. We expect people who are feeling traumatized or upset or concerned or angry. Sometimes people come and they’re mad. Sometimes people come and they’re feeling really hurt and they’re having troubles sleeping or sometimes they come because they have a tip.”
An incident, such as a shooting during daylight hours in a residential community, can be “super shocking for people,” Sturko said.
Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke was at the Sept. 5 outreach event, and she told the Now-Leader that the shooting was “frightening for the community, absolutely.”
“For this community, this is the second time in six months, so it’s very frightening for this community,” said Locke, referencing the fatal shooting near Abbey Drive and 176th Street on April 26. “It has been a pretty idyllic community. Fraser Heights is a pretty lovely little community. but this does put a huge focus in this neighbourhood.”
Sturko said that out of the city’s different districts, Fraser Heights (which is part of a district that also includes Guildford and Fleetwood), is not the most prevalent area where police are seeing higher crime statistics.
“But is knowing overall crime went down two per cent going to make you feel better when you had a shooting in front of your house? Likely not today,” she said, “but understanding a bit more about what happened potentially, what causes these type of things in neighborhoods and understanding a bit more about what community members can do to help the police in terms of reporting information.”
Sturko said addictions and drug use “don’t have boundaries.” She people’s recreational drug use may “inadvertently” bring violence into the community by those buying drugs.
“Drug use can be hidden. Addiction can be hidden… so it may be a hidden factor in all of this. As horrible as the situation is, this is an opportunity for us all to get together to talk about different ways in which communities can come together to help reduce this violence on a completely different avenue.”
Sturko described a person’s home and neighbourhood as their “castle.”
“You know your neighbourhood. Your home is your castle… and no one knows your neighbourhood better than you. You’re the one that looks out the front window every day,” she said. “You as a homeowner, you as a resident, you as a renter or student, whatever your situation is, if this is your neighbourhood, you know better than the police, better than anyone, what’s out of place in your neighbourhood.”
She said she was asked by some people at the outreach event how they could better protect their neighbourhoods.
“If you see someone in your neighbourhood and once a week or every couple of days they’re getting picked up by a car and driving around the block once and then running back into their house, is that slightly suspicious activity? Could be. Would we be interested in knowing the licence plate for that vehicle? Possibly. There’s no harm in phoning that in to us,” said Sturko, adding there’s no such thing as a “silly tip.”
“People are often surprised by something that seems small is actually important to us.”