British Columbia

Family of 15-year-old who died after Vancouver shooting 'saddened and exhausted,' pastor says

The family of a 15-year-old bystander who died after being shot Saturday night in Vancouver is "stunned, saddened and exhausted," according to the pastor of the church they attended.

Kevin Whiteside, 23, believed to be intended target, has also died

Three people were hurt in a shooting near East Broadway and Ontario Streets in Vancouver on Saturday. A 15-year-old caught in the crossfire has died, along with the 23-year-old man police believe was the intended target. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The family of a 15-year-old bystander who died after being shot Saturday night in Vancouver is "stunned, saddened and exhausted," according to the pastor of the church they attended.

The boy died Monday afternoon after being on life support for hours, the BC Coroners Service confirmed.

Pastor Caleb Choi of Coquitlam Christ Church of China said the boy and his family were members of his congregation, but he was not authorized to release the victim's name.

Officers interviewed witnesses at a nearby restaurant on Broadway. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The boy was shot while riding in a vehicle with his parents when gunfire erupted near East Broadway and Ontario Streets, a busy intersection south of the city's downtown, around 9:15 p.m. PT local time.

On Monday, hours before his death, Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said the boy remained on life support but was "not expected to live." 

"What a tragic, terrible event this is. We can't recall something like this happening in our city in a very long time," Palmer said at the time. "It's heartbreaking.

I saw people running. I thought it was fireworks.— Helene Childs, witness

"My heart goes out to the family… we will not ever be able to fully comprehend your grief, but the Vancouver Police Department will do whatever it takes to seek justice for your son."

Palmer also said it is "extremely rare" for an incident like this to happen in Vancouver and that it was a "reckless, reprehensible" crime.

Condolences from the mayor

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson also offered his condolences Monday evening.

"This news is incredibly painful and it angers me that this attack — an act of senseless violence — has taken the life of an innocent victim," he said in a statement.

Police say the boy is from Coquitlam, a suburb east of Vancouver.

A spokesperson for School District 43, which covers the Coquitlam area, confirmed the boy was a student of the district.

Peter Chevrier said support services are being provided to affected students.

The intended target of the shooting, 23-year-old Kevin Whiteside of Vancouver, also died in hospital, Palmer said on Monday. 

Several blocks of East Broadway were closed for the investigation. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Turned and ran

"It's so sad. It's just horrible. I don't know if it's just the Canadian in me but I would not thought of anything like that happening," said witness Helene Childs, who was out walking near her apartment when she saw the shooting.

"I saw people running. I thought it was fireworks." 

Bryan Zawada had just left band practice with friends near Ontario Street when he heard shots and saw a man firing what looked like a semi-automatic weapon.

"We look up and just hear shots firing and see a guy running across the street firing a semi-automatic rifle. We just turned around and ran," said Zawada.

"It was so rattling. It was almost surreal," he said.

Intended victim

According to court records, Whiteside had numerous run-ins with the law, including drug trafficking and assault charges. He was found guilty of assault with a weapon and breach of probation in 2016.

Another man in his 30s suffered minor injuries in the shooting and was released after being treated at the scene. Police said he wasn't targeted.

A statement said more than 50 officers are on the investigation. It's the city's first homicide of 2018. Police say no arrests have been made.

Memorial forms

Monday evening, a smattering of people including Stephanie and Mark Rainey came by the scene of the shooting to leave flowers for the slain boy.

Stephanie, a high school teacher, said she was upset by thought of the boy's potential "snuffed out by a moment of ridiculous violence."

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "So we just wanted to come down and pay our respects and acknowledge what had happened."

Anyone who may have witnessed the shooting is asked to call investigators at (604) 717-2500. 

With files from G.P. Mendoza, Bridgette Watson, Anita Bathe and Lien Yeung