British Columbia

'Frankly, you need to stop': Police, politicians call for end to gang conflict in Lower Mainland

Five people have been killed in Metro Vancouver in recent weeks. All the victims — including a 14-year-old boy — were known to police or associated with gangs.

5 people have been killed after 6 shootings in recent weeks in Metro Vancouver

Police tape surrounds an area of the Morgan Heights neighbourhood of Surrey, B.C. where Gary Kang, 24, was shot and killed on Jan. 6. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

After five deaths — including the murder of a 14-year-old boy — from six gang-related shootings in Metro Vancouver over the past few weeks, police and politicians are calling for a ceasefire.

"Frankly, you need to stop. You need to put those guns down and you know, stop putting all of them at risk," said Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team to the young men at the centre of the conflict. 

He noted that while two of the latest homicides, that of Gary Kang, 24, and Dilraj Johal, 29, took place inside of residences, Anees Mohammed, 29, was gunned down in Richmond's Steveston Community Park.

"[It] is certainly concerning to us anytime somebody uses a firearm in public, in parks where people are just walking their dogs, enjoying their evening," Jang said. 

Jang said it's still not clear what's driving the shootings, and the police are continuing to investigate.

"The exact motive behind these murders is not evident, at least not right away. It can be anything from drugs or money — and certainly those two always fall into the equation when we talk about gangs, or it could just be a personal beef that these guys have with each other," he said. 

Mike Farnworth, B.C.'s minister of public safety, said he is confident that the police are on top of the situation. He noted there have been some legislative changes — like improvements to the witness protection program in B.C. and regulations to make the seizure of unlawful proceeds of crime easier — to help tackle gang-related crime. 

Farnworth said while gang violence is not unique to the Lower Mainland, what's happening now is disturbing.

"It's appalling and shocking and just extremely concerning what has been going on over the last few weeks," he said. "It's unacceptable, but it is what is taking place right now."

Jang said he hopes his demand to stop the conflict could have an effect on at least some of the members.

"In our experience, even for those who are in the inner circle, who are even complicit in these offences, they do have a heart. They do have a conscience. That sense of right and wrong hasn't completely eroded away from them and we're appealing to them."

With files from On The Coast