So let it be written…
So this is what it takes.
Vancouver Police will apparently spare no expense, turn over all stones and throw the proverbial kitchen sink into it as they investigate what almost everybody in the Lower Mainland knew beforehand would happen probably some day sooner rather than later.
They have to be building a special condominium in hell for the monster/s whose reckless gunplay – geez, what a witless term – on Vancouver’s streets sent an innocent 15-year-old boy to his tragically premature death.
Alfred Wong was hit by a stray bullet while sitting in the back seat of his parents’ car last Saturday evening, at busy Broadway and Ontario Street. He died Monday. Could have been any one of us. Or our kids. Might well be one day, if things keep going the way they are.
Murder is of course no new thing, harkening back to the days of Cain and Abel. When I started reporting on crime here in Surrey a silver anniversary ago, sure, there were murders. But drive-by shootings were rare.
That sort of thing happened in Inglewood and South Side Chicago. Bloods, Crips, gangsters over there, far away, not here, not in our neighbourhoods and not done by our neighbours.
Not so any more.
Drive-by shootings have become a part of our social fabric here in the Lower Mainland. In Surrey, we keep a tally of what police call “shots fired incidents.” So far there has been two shootings in Surrey in 2018. There were 59 shootings in Surrey during 2017, and in 2016 there were 61. In 2015 there were 88.
In the steady diet of news stories, street shootings have become a staple.
In the wake of young Wong’s death, Vancouver’s Chief Constable Adam Palmer noted it was the first bystander killing in Vancouver since 2004. He said the murder was an “anomaly” and his is a “safe city.”
Try telling that to this dead boy’s parents. Clearly not safe for him. Not safe for us, as long as criminals continue to shoot at each other from cars, on busy streets.
That goes for Surrey, too.
While this reckless killing of an innocent bystander happened in Vancouver, it could have just as easily happened here. Surrey is not without its premature graves and innocent victims; its Ed Schellenbergs, its Chris Mohans.
Hard to find words to fully express the heartache, anger and outrage so many of us are feeling.
An innocent 15 year old is dead. Do not EVER again, whether in #Vancouver , #Abbotsford or #Surreybc , refer to this as “Low Level” #drugwars / #gangwars.
— Jude Hannah (@studiojude) January 16, 2018
Why, just this past July a woman visiting Surrey from Ontario was grazed by a bullet, in her shoulder, as criminals shot at each other from separate vehicles in Newton. This innocent bystander had been sitting in the passenger seat of a parked van. It’s counterintuitive to call her lucky, but lucky she was. To be alive, that is.
Alfred Wong’s homicide is sickening. So was Mahdi Halane’s, in Surrey. Another innocent destroyed in a drive-by shooting. Over what? Somebody spat on someone else, tempers flared and bullets flew. Halane had nothing to do with that costly spitting. The 18-year-old was hit in the neck, rendering him a quadriplegic. Recently a man was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the crime. Halane, I note, suffered for six years before dying in hospital. His family is suffering still.
The authorities really need to get medieval on these gangsters who put decent folks’ lives – and those of innocent children – in random danger.
The rub is, they need to find a way to do it that won’t have the rest of us living under martial law.
A good place to start is for certain people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, lovers and friends – to grow a conscience and turn these shooters over to police.
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now-Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.