VANCOUVER — The latest fatal shooting in the Lower Mainland has been linked to the region’s escalating gang activity, bringing the number of victims in the conflict to five in the past six weeks.
The shooting happened in Abbotsford near an elementary school, which was closed for the Remembrance Day statutory holiday, and left a 19-year-old man dead.
Emergency services responded to reports of a shooting at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. A young man was found suffering from a gunshot wound. He was flown to hospital by helicopter, where he died.
Friends have identified the victim online as Jagvir Malhi, an Abbotsford resident and graduate of W.J. Mouat Secondary.
It’s a shooting that homicide officers said showed “a blatant disregard for the safety of the community. We are fortunate that school was not in session.”
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said that when they happen, these kinds of violent incidents affect the whole region.
“Not just our community, every community is in shock when these things happen,” Braun said.
“I don’t think that anyone feels this level of violence is OK in our community or anywhere else.”
Members of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Abbotsford Police Department continued to work the case on Tuesday.
It was the second fatal shooting in Abbotsford in less than a month, and the eighth homicide in the Lower Mainland in the past six weeks. Five of those killings are believed to be related to gang conflict.
The first happened on the night of Oct. 3, when 19-year-old Varinderpal Singh Gill was shot and killed in the parking lot of a shoppingcentre in Mission. The teen was the subject of an Abbotsford police public warning after they felt his presence in public created a serious risk to public safety because of his involvement in the gang conflict.
A week later, on the afternoon of Oct. 11, 30-year-old Sumeet Randhawa was shot in in Surrey. He was known to police and the shooting is believed to be related to the gang war.
Again in Abbotsford, Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside the front door of a bank on Oct. 18. His brother, Gavinder Grewal, was a leader of the Brothers’ Keepers gang who was killed in North Vancouver last December.
Finally, on Nov. 9, a 22-year-old man was found dead outside a home in the Newton area of Surrey. He had been shot, and it is believed he was targeted as part of the ongoing gang conflict.
A spokesperson for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, B.C.’s gang task force, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, police said there was a new wave of gang violence washing over the Lower Mainland, involving both younger people and those who have criminal links that go back years.
Braun said he has had to visit far too many families who have lost loved ones. “When young men are shot and killed it’s tragic, and what the families go through I can only empathize with them — it has to be terrible.”