Police chief recalls death of bystander in 2004 Gastown shooting

In answering questions about the safety of Vancouver streets following Saturday’s brazen shooting on Broadway that left 15-year-old bystander Alfred Wong dead, police Chief Adam Palmer said the last incident he remembered where an innocent bystander was caught up in a shooting was the 2004 death of Rachel Davis.

Davis was shot and killed outside Gastown’s Purple Onion nightclub as she tried to stop a fight between two groups of people, according to a Globe and Mail report from the 2006 trial stemming from the incident. Davis, 23, and a man, 24-year-old Richard Hui, were killed in the shooting outside the club on Jan. 3, 2004. Another five people were injured.

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One man, Imran Saff Sharif, was convicted of two counts of murder, and five counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault in the case. He launched an appeal of his conviction that was rejected by the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2009.

The club closed in July 2004, six months after the shooting. Former manager Colin Bazant told the Georgia Straight at the time several factors contributed to the closure — the city’s decision to concentrate Vancouver’s nightlife on the Granville strip as well as violent events in the area, including the shooting outside the club.

The incident was one of several that provided a push for the Vancouver Police Department to adopt the Bar Watch program, spokesman Sgt. Jason Robillard said in an email to the Courier.

The program has been in place since November 2007 and gives officers authorization to deny someone entry, or remove someone from, a participating establishment. The program is specifically aimed at gang members and their associates.

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