Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

RICHMOND, B.C. — The death of a 28-year-old man outside the departure terminal at Vancouver International Airport is believed to be linked to the ongoing gang conflict that has gripped British Columbia's Lower Mainland, police say.

Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said the victim is known to police and the shooting needs to stop.

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"I think we're all tired of seeing the violence that is taking place on our streets," Jang said during a late news conference Sunday.

An SUV with at least two people inside was seen leaving the scene.

A short time later, fire crews in Surrey were called to attend a vehicle fire in a back alley, about 28 kilometres from the airport. Several targeted shootings have ended with similar vehicle fires.

Richmond RCMP Chief Supt. Will Ng said the shooting took place about 3 p.m. on Sunday and shortly afterwards one of their officers caught up with the suspect vehicle.

Someone from the vehicle fired their weapon while driving down a busy street, hitting the police cruiser, Ng said.

The officer didn't return fire and stopped the pursuit, he said.

There's been a string of shootings resulting in murders and injuries in Metro Vancouver over the last few weeks, taking place near shopping centres, restaurants and busy streets.

The murder of a prison corrections officer in the parking lot of a busy Delta, B.C., shopping mall had all the hallmarks of a gang hit, police said last week.

Ng said this newest generation of gangers is taking things to another level and have no regard for community safety.

"They will stop at nothing to target rivals, even if it's at an international airport in broad daylight on Mother's Day, and putting everyone at risk, including shooting at a police officer, which indicates to me these people have no care whatsoever."

Because gangers are taking it to the next level, Ng said police will do the same.

"Next level strategies are a very intentional and strategic response, targeting individuals involved in the Lower Mainland gang conflict, and specifically targeting them with a collaborative approach with all of our law enforcement agencies, partners," he said.

Jang said it is clear that the message isn't getting through to these people.

"Please don't kill one another, stop the violence. Apparently it's falling on deaf ears to some, and they continue to harm one another, they continue to shoot their guns, putting all of us in jeopardy."

Jang said police are looking for dashcam video from those who were in the area Sunday between the airport and the location where the vehicle was found on fire to help with their investigation.

Delta's police chief said last week that all police departments in B.C.'s Lower Mainland were working on the shootings.

Neil Dubord acknowledged the "anxiety" around the very public shootings, saying they showed a "shocking" disregard for public safety.

On Sunday evening, yellow evidence markers peppered the area where the shooting took place. A tall, white screen remained in front of an entrance to the terminal, shielding the crime scene.

Red police tape surrounded the scene, both inside the terminal and outside where passengers would normally be dropped off to catch their flights.

The Vancouver airport Authority said in a statement that the airport was open and safe for airport workers and those who need to travel.

"Our thoughts are with those impacted by (Sunday's) incident."

It said the safety and security of its employees, community and passengers remains its priority and it is fully co-operating with RCMP to support the investigation.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement on Twitter that the shooting was disturbing news.

"My thoughts are with the communities in the Lower Mainland who have been impacted by gun and gang violence far too often, particularly over the last week," Blair said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2021.

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