British Columbia

Bacon shooting sparks gang retaliation fears

A settling of scores could be on the way between gangs in British Columbia after a notorious leader of the Red Scorpions was gunned down and a full-patch member of the Hells Angels was wounded in a very public daylight attack, police say.
Police are looking into whether Jonathan Bacon was killed by a rival gang or if it was an inside job, the CBC's Eric Rankin reports 3:03

A settling of scores could be on the way between gangs in British Columbia after a notorious leader of the Red Scorpions was gunned down and a full-patch member of the Hells Angels was wounded in a very public daylight attack, police say.

The brazen slaying of 30-year-old Jonathan Bacon outside a glamorous waterfront hotel in Kelowna Sunday has the potential to ignite violent reprisals, RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon acknowledged Monday, a day after the shooting that injured at least four others at the time.

"I think retaliation is something we're very cautious of," the officer  told a news conference in the B.C. Interior city.

"Where it might happen, whether it'll happen in Kelowna or any community in this province is something that law enforcement officials are very leery of at this particular time.

"I can't comment on expectations. I think it's a possibility that it could happen."

No arrests have yet been made in the high-profile slaying that police described as linked to organized crime. Const. Steve Holmes said it was targeted but he wouldn't say who in the group was the intended victim.

Motive not clear

 

One person in the Porsche SUV that was hit by the volley of gunfire fled the scene and hasn't been located. Two women were also wounded.

Forensic experts are examining a burnt-out SUV that was found some hours later to see if it's linked.

The police were reluctant to release other details of their investigation, refusing to say how many suspects they're looking for or what kind of weapon was used.

"The investigation is looking at the motive behind Sunday's attack," McKinnon said, adding he wouldn't comment on whether police were already aware gang members were in the city.

"While there can be a series of complex cause-based factors behind it, it can also be as simple as who is dating whom."

The Porsche SUV Bacon rode in was peppered with bullet holes. (CBC)
Experts in the province's long-running gang violence agreed Monday British Columbians should brace themselves for the possibility of ugly vengeance.

"Definitely this won't be taken lightly by the associates of the supposed victims here," said Kash Heed, a former West Vancouver police chief who helped spearhead the province's anti-gangs task force almost a decade ago.

"I'm sure there will be attempts or certainly a lot of discussion regarding retaliation."

Kash Heed sounds alarm

Heed, now a Vancouver-area MLA, said the public should be alarmed.

Bacon brothers' timeline:

  • August 2005: Jonathan Bacon is charged with 15 counts of drugs and weapons offences after police found a cache of automatic weapons, a bulletproof vest, drugs and more than $90,000 in cash.
  • October 2007: Six people are found murdered in a Surrey, B.C., apartment highrise, two of them innocent bystanders who police have said were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • April 2009: Jamie Bacon is arrested and charged with murder in the so-called Surrey Six slayings. Five others are also charged.
  • April 2009: Dennis Karbovenic pleaded guilty in April 2009 to three counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Surrey slayings.
  • March 2010: B.C. Court of Appeal overturns the provincial court ruling acquitting Jonathan Bacon of drug and weapons offences and orders a new trial.
  • Nov. 18, 2010: Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear Jonathan Bacon's argument that his charter rights were violated when he was charged with the 2005 drugs and weapons offences.
  • Dec. 18, 2010: Jamie Bacon is sentenced to seven years in prison for weapons charges. The sentence amounts to three years and eight months when time in custody is taken into account.

"Just because we did not have an innocent bystander hurt here, we've have had innocent bystanders hurt and killed in the past," he said, explaining that's why he's urging police to ramp up efforts and co-operation across jurisdictions before more bloody warfare erupts.

"We've known the players for years. ... The infamous Bacon gang, the Red Scorpions, the UN gang, the Hells Angels, the Independent Soldiers. You just got to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And you need to do it with intel-led policing."

Sgt. Shinder Kirk, spokesman for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit which includes the gangs task force, said the shooting shows that gang tensions in the province haven't gone away.

Gangland activity has killed and injured dozens of people in B.C.'s Lower Mainland in recent years. Turf battles have been waged between a variety of different gangs, some over drug profits, with at least four dozen shootings in 2009 in the Vancouver area alone.

Two people in the wrong place at the wrong time were shot to death along with four other men in a Surrey, B.C. apartment building in October 2007. Police blamed the Red Scorpions and Jamie Bacon is among those charged with murder.

"It's very difficult to say what motivated this or motivates any of these types of shootings," Kirk said, noting he couldn't speak to the specifics of the Kelowna case.

"Is it long-standing disputes? We know that in the gang world, they have very long memories and the violence can occur for not only what the group or the individual within the group is up to, but it can occur for any reason."

Whether tit-for-tat clashes are likely "remains to be seen," Kirk said.

Anxiety is already building for some officials who work on the front lines in dealing with the repercussions of gang violence.

Previous slaying attempts

Witnesses reported spotting suspects dressed all in black brandishing what looked like semi-automatic weapons and then hearing a rapid succession of gunshots, leaving a splatter of blood and the vehicle dappled with bullet holes.

The clamour unfolded outside the front entrance of the swanky Delta Grand hotel after a silvery-green SUV stopped behind the victims' vehicle about 2:45 p.m. PT.

In the gang world, they have very long memories.

Jonathan and his youngest brother Jamie have escaped attempted assassinations in the past, and in 2008 police warned anyone associated with Jamie and middle brother Jarrod that they may be in danger because of the violence around the brothers.

The three have had repeated run-ins with the law over gun-and-drug offences. Police have said they are the nucleus of the Red Scorpions gang.

Youngest brother Jamie Bacon is in custody awaiting trial in the Surrey Six slayings.

Jonathan Bacon, the eldest, was charged in a case that the Supreme Court of Canada said last year it would review after a lower court found his charter rights were violated when he was charged with drug-and-gun offences in 2005.