RCMP confirm Jonathan Bacon, the eldest of three brothers police have linked to a violent gang known as the Red Scorpions, died in a shooting Sunday that also injured a Hells Angels member.
Police told a news conference in Kelowna, B.C., on Monday that two women were also injured and a fifth person fled after a hail of bullets witnesses say were unleashed at a vehicle by someone wearing a balaclava and carrying an automatic weapon outside the Delta Hotel.
The injuries were not considered life-threatening and police believe the shooting was a targeted hit. Officers did not identify any of the other victims, including the Hells Angels member.
Another member of a third gang, the Independent Soldiers, also was reported to be in the vehicle and was not injured.
Police would also not confirm that report, nor would they say which of the three gang members might have been the target of the shooting.
Bacon, 30, along with his brothers Jamie and Jarrod, was thought to control the Red Scorpions gang, which was at the centre of a bloody gang war that played out on the streets of Metro Vancouver nearly three years ago.
Supt. Bill McKinnon of the Kelowna detachment acknowledged that Sunday'sincident has raised tensions among the public, but police were reluctant to release many details of their investigation.
"The investigation is looking at the motive behind Sunday's attack," he told a news conference.
"While there can be a series of complex cause-based factors behind it, it can also be as simple as who is dating whom."
McKinnon also suggested no one should expect quick arrests in the case.
"Gang and organized crime investigations are extremely complex and take an enormous amount of resources."
Just before 3 p.m. PT, witnesses said, a green SUV pulled up behind a white Porsche SUV outside the Delta Grand Hotel, just as the Porsche was leaving the hotel's front entrance.
The witnesses said they saw a masked gunman on foot fire shots from an automatic weapon.
"It sounded like, to me, a building was just collapsing around the corner," said one witness, who wished to be identified only as Lance.
"It was so loud, it didn't sound like gunshots at first. [I] got a little closer, and then I seen a guy in all black and a mask with an assault rifle. He was unloading at this Porsche Cayenne over there and then they took off, so we started walking up to see what was going on and then there was people coming out of the car and bloody."
The driver of the Porsche tried to flee but crashed into the side of the hotel's conference centre, near the Lake City Casino.
The green SUV used in the getaway headed up Cawston Avenue and disappeared, police said.
Sometime after 6 p.m., the RCMP located a burned-out Ford Explorer in Lake Country, a community about 25 kilometres north of downtown Kelowna.
RCMP did not confirm the vehicle was the same one seen leaving the scene of the shooting.
Police have not said how many suspects they are looking for, but anyone who witnessed the shooting — or has photographs or video of the incident — is asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP detachment.
Gang task force funding
Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd said it was a "shock" to hear about the shooting, but said it is an extremely rare event for the community.
Shepherd is still calling on senior levels of government to continue funding a gang task force in the area.
"We are aware that there is gang activity in our community. We've been extremely supportive of a gang task force for the Okanagan and the Kootenay area," she said.
"In fact, we've been lobbying that the funding that was allocated to this task force continues because the expiry date is coming pretty quick." Shepherd said the task force was announced three years ago but has only been active for about 18 months.
"One community can't fight this. It really has to be a provincial and federal initiative, and we need funds to do that, so we'll continue lobbying and advocating for more money to be put towards this particular issue," Shepherd said.
She said the police response to the shooting has been swift, and the RCMP is throwing "a lot of manpower" at the investigation.
Meanwhile, gang experts say the shooting in Kelowna will spur more violence.
Doug Spencer, a former Vancouver police officer who has been involved in more than 1,000 gang investigations, said there will almost certainly be retribution for the shooting of a Hells Angels member.
"If they know who did it, there's going to be payback, period, with those guys," Spencer said. "They've earned their reputation.
"[Jonathan] Bacon's brothers, they're still in jail and stuff so there's not much they can do themselves, but I'm sure they're gonna be reaching out and trying to find out who did their brother."
Jonathan and his youngest brother, Jamie, have both been targets of attempted slayings in the past. Jamie is in prison, awaiting trial on charges in the Surrey Six slayings.