British Columbia

'Completely innocent': IHIT says shooting death of Surrey father was case of mistaken identity

Investigators say a minor hockey coach who was killed in a targeting shooting in July was the victim of mistaken identity.

Paul Bennett, a popular minor hockey coach, was gunned down in what police have called a targeted shooting

Paul Bennett was shot and killed on June 23 in Surrey, B.C. (Facebook)

Investigators say the targeted fatal shooting of a minor hockey coach in Surrey, B.C., was a case of mistaken identity. 

Paul Bennett "was a completely innocent person," Cpl. Frank Jang with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Thursday.

Bennett was a 47-year-old father of two who worked as a nurse and volunteered as a hockey coach.

He was gunned down in broad daylight in a quiet residential suburb in Cloverdale on June 23.

Police say Bennett was a leader in his community. (CBC)

In the days after, RCMP said Bennett was not known to police, but believed the shooting was targeted.

Jang said Thursday that Bennett had no criminal record and was not linked to any criminal activity.

"Our investigators believe that Mr. Bennett was the unintended victim of a targeted shooting," he said.

Searching for Honda Civic

Police have not made any arrests nor laid criminal charges. Investigators are now trying to determine a motive and the intended target, Jang said. 

They're looking for a silver four-door Honda Civic sedan caught on surveillance footage leaving the area shortly after the shooting.

Jang declined to say whether the intended target lived on Bennett's street. 

The shooting comes amid already heightened community concern over gun violence in Surrey.

"I understand this is very unsettling news to the community," Jang said.

'Compassionate and caring'

Bennett's family released a letter praising him as a "compassionate and caring individual." 

"He wore his heart on his sleeve and was a presence in the room. He had an easy ability to converse with anyone on any topic. He was a people person and relished to be around others," the letter read.

The family said Bennett died a violent and senseless death. 

"There was a complete disregard to public safety, as he was murdered in a quiet residential area. We are grieving and traumatized by his loss and praying to understand why this has happened to our family." 

Bennett's family is urging anyone with information to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Read more from CBC British Columbia