Former wife recalls 'humble' man caught in deadly gang shooting

The ex-wife of a bystander caught in a fatal gang shooting in Calgary says she is shocked by the senseless death.
Keni and his ex-wife, Lenni Su'a. The pair still 'cared about each other deeply,' she said. ((Courtesy Lenni Su'a))

The ex-wife of a bystander caught in a fatal gang shooting in Calgary says she is shocked by the senseless death.

Police said Keni Su'a, 43, was an innocent man who ran out of the Bolsa Vietnamese restaurant after two men entered and opened fire on Jan. 1. Su'a was confronted by a third man before being gunned down by the original two shooters in the restaurant's parking lot.

The gunmen were targeting two men and a woman sitting at a table in the restaurant at Macleod Trail and 94th St. SE, police said. Su'a was not among them. The woman escaped but the two men were killed.

Su'a's death was senseless, said his ex-wife, Lenni Su'a, who now lives in Edmonton.

"Why does something like this happen?" she said. "You think you should be able to walk the streets in a city like Calgary, in a country like Canada, and be safe …to be able to go to a restaurant and have something to eat by yourself if you want to. To come and go without fear that it could be your last day."

Gang violence escalates

Police have said the shooting was likely an escalation of violence between two rival gangs in the city.

Aaron Bendle, remembered here on a Facebook page, was also killed in the shooting.

Police identified the other two dead men as Sanjeev Mann, 22, a Calgary man who is a known gang member. Also killed was Aaron Bendle, 21, of Calgary, who police described as an "associate" of Mann.

Adrian Vaughn, Bendle's aunt, disputes the suggestion that sharing a table with Mann automatically makes Bendle a gang member.

"We have never heard the name Sanjeev Mann before. We don't know him and we do know [Bendle's] close friends," she said. "Aaron was not involved with any gang or criminal activity. In fact he was unknown to the police, that's why they had trouble identifying him."

Lenni Su'a, who was married to Keni for more than a decade, said police initially asked her about her ex-husband's "associates."

"I said, 'If you are trying to imply he had anything to do with a gang, or anything to do with organized crime or any crime whatsoever, I absolutely guarantee he is not that kind of person.' I was just shocked," she said.

Bystander had 'a heart for God'

She said he worked full time with a construction company and was trying to start his own business. Su'a immigrated from the Polynesian country of Samoa, where she says he still has family.

"He was humble; he didn't like to draw attention to himself," Lenni Su'a said. "I don't know what he would think of this."

Su'a was remembered by a friend as a "gentle man with a great smile and a heart for God" on a memorial page on Facebook.

"It makes me really angry that he came to my country to tell my people about God, and this is what my people give him in return. I am deeply saddened," she wrote.

Another friend added: "He was a kind, gentle, hardworking, loving person, and we will miss him. We don't understand, and likely never will, but we do know that Keni is in the presence of his saviour."