Burnaby RCMP moved swiftly to address a spike in gang violence in the city this summer, according to a report to the city’s public safety committee this month.
According to Insp. Kathy Hartwig, a conflict between two known gangs based in the Lower Mainland – one with ties to Burnaby – was behind a number of violent incidents in Squamish, New Westminster and Burnaby in mid-July.
The Burnaby incidents included a carjacking of a delivery vehicle in the 4000 block of Maywood Street on July 14 and another carjacking and stabbing in the 9000 block of Cardston Court the following day.
Also on July 15, a 14-year-old showed up at Burnaby Hospital with gunshot wounds, saying he’d been shot in the 3000 block of Dorchester Drive.
Eight days later, Burnaby RCMP got a report two males had been shot at in the area of Stride Avenue and Britton Street.
The victims in all but one of the incidents was unco-operative with police, according to Burnaby RCMP.
“Due to the fact that some of the incidents relating to this conflict are still under investigation we cannot speak definitively to what caused this conflict,” Hartwig told the NOW. “What we can say is that, in our experience dealing with these kind of gang issues, drugs, weapons and violent retaliation-type assault incidents are all potential causes.”
To disrupt the escalating conflict, she said Burnaby RCMP launched a month-long enforcement project targeting those suspected of being involved.
From late July to the end of August, officers from an array of different units in the detachment conducted 32 curfew checks, 10 traffic stops, 16 street checks and made 45 contacts with staff at bars, restaurants, community centres and shopping malls that suspected gang members were known to frequent.
During the project, three people were found to be breaching the conditions of their release from jail, two driving prohibitions were served, seven violation tickets were issued, one person was arrested and one referral was made to the Burnaby Mobilization and Resiliency Table.
The project resulted in a noticeable drop in gang-related violence, according to Hartwig’s report, with no reports of violence between the two groups since the end of August.
Faced with escalating gang activity, Hartwig said Burnaby RCMP had to pull some officers from their regular duties to respond.
“This gang project showed that Burnaby is not immune when it comes to gang violence,” stated her report. “Our community can be confident that when it does take place in Burnaby that resources are immediately deployed to ensure it is quelled as quickly as possible.”
Some of the incidents, like the reported shootings, weren’t reported publicly by police because they were deemed to have been targeted and investigators could find no evidence they had, in fact, happened in Burnaby, according to Burnaby RCMP.
Releasing the information publicly could also have jeopardized the investigation into ongoing gang issues in the city, police said.