British Columbia

'He was a gentle soul': 1 year since 2 teens killed in targeted shooting in Surrey

Since their deaths, Wake Up Surrey formed, thousands attended a rally against gang violence and Surrey city council revealed its plans to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

Jaskaran (Jassi) Singh Bhangal, 17, and Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty, 16, were shot on June 4, 2018

Sixteen-year-old Jaskarn Singh Jhutty and 17-year-old Jaskaran Singh Bhangal, both residents of Surrey, were the victims of homicide. (IHIT)

It's been once year since two teenagers were killed in a targeted shooting in Surrey. 

The victims were 16-year-old Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty and 17-year-old Jaskaran (Jassi) Singh Bhangal. They attended Frank Hurt Secondary School and were in grades 10 and 11.

Neither boy was known to police but investigators believe the shooting was gang-related.

"Some individuals have been forthcoming, some have not," said Cpl. Frank Jang with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. "Some have shut the door on us, and we're hoping they will reopen those lines of communication with us."

Two burned-out cars were found the same night as the killings that police said may be linked. They're still looking for witnesses.

Jason 'had the heart of a giant'

Pawan Jhutty calls the past year without her younger brother "dark and painful."

"He was just a child, No parent should ever have to spend their life wondering what could have possibly happened in their child's final moments."

Jhutty said education about drugs and gangs was a priority in their household, so the idea that the boys' deaths could be gang-related comes as a shock.

"It seemed as if we were doing everything right as parents and older siblings … We have no answers as to why someone would do this to Jason."

Watch: Pawan Jhutty speaks on the one year anniversary of her brother's death

Sister of slain Surrey teen makes plea

2 years ago
1:53
Pawan Jhutty, the sister of slain Surrey teen Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty, makes a plea for information to help solve his murder. 1:53

Jassi known for his huge smile and contagious laugh

The family of Jassi Bhangal has been in a similar state of shock since his death.

"My family and I haven't been the same since," Sharon Bhangal, Jassi's older sister, said at a news conference. "We have a huge hole in our hearts that can never be filled."

Bhangal said she and her brother used to celebrate their birthdays together because they were in the same month. It's just now beginning to dawn on her that her birthday will never be the same.

"I now realize that I didn't just lose my baby brother, I lost a piece of myself which I can never get back."

Watch: Sharon Bhangal speaks on the one year anniversary of her brother's death

Slain Surrey teen's sister seeks answers

2 years ago
3:18
Sharon Bhangal, the sister of Jaskaran (Jassi) Singh Bhangal, says her family won't get to see what the future held for her brother 3:18

Deaths spurred change in Surrey

The young ages of the teenagers led to some significant changes in the city, says Gurpreet Singh Sahota. 

"They were just boys. That was likely the breaking point for everyone," he said. 

Following the teenagers' murder, Sahota and a few others founded Wake Up Surrey and organized a protest outside Surrey City Hall, which was attended by thousands who spoke out against gang violence, including grieving family members of the two teens.

"They were teenagers and not their time to go. Everyone is worried if this thing can happen to a 16 and 17-year-old, it can happen to 15, 14 or 13. Have to stop it here," he said. 

Following the deaths of the two teens, Punjabi journalists like Gurpreet Singh Sahota formed the group Wake Up Surrey. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Sahota also believes the murders changed the course of the municipal election in Surrey and led the city to transition to a local police force instead of the RCMP. 

"People were thinking the previous council was not sincere and not doing enough. People need change. That's why they're asking for even police change," he said. 

On Monday, the City of Surrey announced its plans to transition to an independent police force by April 1, 2021. 

In its long-anticipated transition plan, it detailed what the new policing model would look like.

The report says a municipal force would cost $192.5 million in 2021 — a 10.9 per cent increase over the projected costs of keeping the RCMP — and would have 805 police officers and 20 community safety personnel.

Currently, Surrey RCMP has an authorized strength of 843 police officers with 51 vacancies that have been backfilled.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Lovgreen

Video Journalist

Tina is a Video Journalist with CBC Vancouver. Send her an email at tina.lovgreen@cbc.ca

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