BC has seen a sudden surge in gang violence and crime in the lower mainland over the past month. Citizens are becoming weary as Vancouver PD make serious efforts to calm the recent public shootings in Metro Vancouver, the most recent one taking place in Burnaby. On the 13th of May three people were shot outside of a Cactus Club. One person, 23 year old Jaskeert Kalkat was killed while a man and a woman suffered severe injuries. Both the man and woman are expected to make a full recovery. The man killed was known to police. Kalkat was affiliated with gang activity, most likely with an opposing gang from the shooters. Police also suspect all three were targeted in the shooting at 8:30 that night. What is shocking residents and police is that these gang related shootings are happening in public places, with bystanders in the area. Shootings are also taking place in broad daylight. Sgt. Frank Jang confirmed the getaway vehicle in the Burnaby shooting later that night in South Surrey. The car was set on fire and left near 184th Street and 16th Avenue half an hour away from Market Crossing shopping center . Police are urging anyone to come forward with any information or footage of the get-away drivers or their vehicle.
Not even a week before on May 9th another shooting occurred at the Vancouver international airport where 28 year old, Karman Grewal was shot dead in broad daylight outfront of the airport’s domestic terminal. Police say Grewal was targeted and possibly tied to gang activity. A chase ensued, part of it was caught on a dashcam. The video showed a maroon vehicle speeding off from YVR during the afternoon. Police were unable to maintain pursuit after the shooters when the men inside the vehicle started open firing at the police cruisers. Police made an effort to block off roads to catch the men but were unsuccessful. The maroon SUV was found that same day, burnt to a crisp only 15 minutes away from the crime scene. It’s clear to see that these gangs are ruthless in their tactics, putting regular people in danger. There have been 11 shootings in BC’s Lower mainland in less than a month, seven of them involving casualties, and most of them taking place in public places. With tensions rising we turn to Police in hopes of a solution.
A public warning put out by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) revealed 6 men who pose a threat to public safety and are connected to the recent spike in gang related crime in the Lower Mainland. On Tuesday 5 more men were added to this list of known suspects. Police believe that anyone within proximity of these individuals are putting themselves in danger. The CFSEU-BC issued the public warning in order for relatives, friends, and the general public to take extreme measures to ensure personal safety. Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald ensured that police across BC will continue to use all their resources and tools to halt and disrupt gang-related activity. BC police are planning on using overt and covert enforcement strategies and future public warnings to keep citizens safe.
Gang violence in BC and the Lower Mainland is sadly nothing new to BC police. The 2000’s and 2010’s were spent fighting against one of the most violent gangs in BC. The Bacon Brothers were a trio of gangsters from Abbotsford, BC who are now suspected of multiple firearms and drug trafficking charges along with multiple homicides. The Bacon brothers Partnered with another notorious gang, The Red Scorpions to compete against rival gang, United Nations. After countless fights with the law two of the three bacon brothers were apprehended. The oldest of the three, Jonathan Bacon was killed in Kelowna in 2011, while Jamie Bacon was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part in the Surrey Six killings. Jarrod Bacon was recently released from prison in mid march after previously serving 8 years in prison for drug trafficking and violating parole. Even though the Bacon Brothers cease to pose an immediate threat against BC residents, there is no denying that BC has a long and violent history with gangs.
In more recent times, many are noticing a steep shift in age amongst gang members.
“A disproportionate number of South Asian youth have been lured into this gang lifestyle and have become victims of the social disease.”
Said Sukhi Sandhu, a spokesperson for a group called Wake Up Surrey which aims to prevent gang violence in the city. Sandhu is one of many concerned citizens willing to make a change in his community. Cities all across the Lower Mainland are reaching out to kids and young adults to figure out why the younger generation are turning to gangs. Manpreet Sarai, a supervisor and educator with the anti-gang program at the South Asian Community Resource Office in Abbotsford says kids turn to gang life for a variety of reasons. Most cases seem to be linked to a loss of identity and trouble fitting in. However, Sarai also attributes the youth joining gangs to a fascination kids have with gang activity.
“The youth do like to talk about what’s happening in the community, who’s getting shot at or who’s been shot at. Usually the youth know before anyone else finds out in the community.”
- Manpreet Sarah
To a parent this could be quite the concern, but one can easily compare it to the spreading of information. Whether it be gossip amongst friends or broadcasting news. The way we interact with others and the way we interact with social media creates a never ending stream of information far faster than the word of mouth. So it’s no wonder the youth are constantly in the loops with what takes place around them.
At this time we cannot predict what is to come in regards to the gang activity in our communities, but we can continue to help those who are in need of purpose and guidance. To show someone in need a little compassion can go a long way.