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Man killed while sitting in back of taxi in Surrey, driver seriously hurt

Dead man believed to have been involved in street-level drug trade; surge of shootings on Lower Mainland
PNG - Surrey shooting Aug. 9, 2022
A man was shot dead in a taxicab at a strip mall on 108th Avenue near 148 Street in Surrey on Aug. 9, 2022. ARLEN REDEKOP, PNG

VANCOUVER — A man known to police was gunned down in the back of a taxi Tuesday in a brazen Surrey shooting that left the cab driver seriously injured.

The 30-year-old victim, who has a lengthy criminal history, was targeted as the taxi sat in the parking lot of Church’s Chicken in the 14800 block of 108th Avenue about 2:20 p.m.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Vanessa Munn said officers arrived to find “both occupants of the vehicle had been shot.”

“The driver of the taxi was transported to hospital with serious injuries,” she said, adding that the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team had been called in.

“This daytime shooting in a strip mall parking lot demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety of others and resulted in serious injuries to a taxi driver,” Munn said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or ihittipline@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

A manager at the restaurant told Postmedia News that her “staff was under stress” after the shocking shooting – one of several in recent weeks that have left victims dead across the Lower Mainland.

Postmedia has learned the identity of the victim but is not publishing it yet, as IHIT Sgt. Tim Pierotti said Tuesday afternoon that his family has not yet been notified.

The dead man is believed to have been involved in the street-level drug trade. At the time of the shooting, he was before the courts on three trafficking charges laid in 2020, as well as two driving offences from Vancouver and Surrey. His criminal record dates to 2010.

In 2019, he got 141 days in jail for trafficking in Surrey. In 2017, he got 60 days in jail for possession of stolen property and was also convicted in a separate case for assault with a weapon. In 2015, he was jailed in a domestic case and also got a year’s probation for a Langley assault.

The shooting is not the first to put a taxi driver at risk. Fourteen-year-old Tequel Willis, a Brothers Keepers associate, was shot to death after getting out of a cab in Surrey in Dec. 28, 2020. And in August 2008, James Edward O’Toole was gunned down in the back of a taxi on Commercial Drive in a targeted slaying.

The latest slaying comes just three days after a teenager with links to the Brothers Keepers gang was shot to death on the Trans-Canada Highway in Burnaby. A second man was wounded in the shooting at 2:29 p.m. Saturday near the Kensington overpass.

A black Mercedes-Benz SUV sped away from that shooting and was found on fire about two hours later in the 1100-block of Eastlawn Drive in Burnaby.

IHIT identified the dead teen as Meysam Zaki, 18. Investigators did not release the name of the wounded man.

Just a week earlier on July 30, two young men were killed and a third critically injured in a shooting in the parking lot of South Surrey Athletic Park. IHIT announced Aug. 5 that a suspect had been arrested, but not yet charged in the slayings, which were described as having “a nexus to gang and drug activity.”