VANCOUVER — Vancouver police say they suspected another eruption in Vancouver’s gang war was coming, even before a weekend shooting at an invitation-only birthday party left 10 people wounded.
Eight people remained in hospital Monday after the brazen shootout and police said all are considered by police to be victims, though police also said all have gang ties. No suspects are in custody and no charges have been laid.
Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said Vancouver’s obvious gang problem has been relatively quiet for most of 2010, compared with the many killings in 2009.
But a slaying in October appears to have led to the latest explosion of violence.
“We had a little bit of a lull but there is always tensions beneath the surface and the latest outbreak is connected to the targeted hit of Gurmit Singh Dhak,” Chu said.
The 32-year-old Dhak was gunned down on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of a huge suburban shopping mall and police suspected his death would trigger a gang war.
The birthday party on Sunday took place at a restaurant on the city’s upscale west side. Vancouver Police Supt. Warren Lemcke said most of the people at the birthday party were known to have gang connections.
“It was only people that were attending this birthday party by invitation that were involved. There were no innocent people that were in the area that were struck by any of the bullets,” Lemcke said at a news conference Monday Morning
Lemcke was joined by Vancouver’s mayor Gregor Robertson, who lives within a few blocks of the crime scene in the usually quiet neighbourhood.
Lemcke said Vancouver Police won’t tolerate such activity and he promised the public will see more uniformed officers in restaurants and bars where gang members are known to frequent.
“The major concern here is where these shootings are occurring in public and the potential for innocent people to be hurt,” Lemcke said.
The shoot-out prompted several calls to 911, including one from Robertson himself, who said his family was alarmed by the shootings.
“You get that rotten, sinking feeling your stomach when you realize exactly what’s going on,” Robertson said, promising greater resources to the police as investigators untangle this investigation.
All of the victims are between the ages of 20 and 36.
Lemcke did not disclose further information linked to their investigation but said the Vancouver police are pouring their resources into ensuring such an incident doesn’t happen again.
The shooting took place sometime after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning in the Shaughnessy area outside of the Best Neighbourhood restaurant, where the birthday party was being held. The shootings spanned several blocks.