Three people were gunned down at the Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant in 2009, including an innocent bystander. CBC (CBC)

Two suspected gang members went on trial Tuesday accused of shooting three people to death, including an innocent bystander, on New Year's Day in 2009.

Three masked gunmen entered the Bolsa Vietnamese Restaurant in a southeast Calgary strip mall and opened fire, killing Sanjeev Mann, 22, described by police as a known gang member, and Aaron Bendle, 21, who also had gang ties.

The third victim, construction worker Keni Su'a, 43, was eating in the restaurant and tried to escape, but was gunned down in the parking lot.

Nathan Zuccherato, 24, Michael Roberto, 27, and Real Honorio, 27, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Honorio's trial did not begin on Tuesday because his lawyer was unavailable.

A publication ban was put in effect for the pre-trial arguments, which are expected to last two weeks.

Gang violence

A rivalry between two gangs — Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) and the FOB Killers (FK) — is believed to be connected to more than 20 homicides in Calgary dating back to 2002.

In the days following the 2009 murders, police vowed to step up their work against gangs in Calgary.

Officials have since credited that renewed focus with reducing the murder rate by almost 50 per cent the following year.

The trial in Court of Queen’s Bench is scheduled to last for more than a month.