VANCOUVER — The latest in a series of shootings in Metro Vancouver has police concerned about the potential for innocent bystanders getting hurt in the crossfire of what could be a return to gang-related violence in the region.
RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said a man who is known to police was arrested five minutes after four people were shot in a targeted hit Wednesday night at a packed banquet hall in Richmond, B.C.
“We have a male in custody but we have not determined what his role was in this shooting,” he said Thursday.
Thiessen said the suspect was taken into custody a short distance from the scene, where 150 people were gathered.
“Police recognize these types of incidents are very concerning to the public. The potential for innocent people to be hurt is high.”
Since Sunday, nine people have died and five others have been injured in several violent incidents in Metro Vancouver, Hope and Vanderhoof.
Police have said at least five of the incidents were either gang or crime related.
Mounties said two men were critically injured in the banquet-hall shooting while two others suffered less serious gunshot wounds and that all the victims are in stable condition.
Mark Gordienko, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, said some union members and others rented the hall for a private party and found themselves in the midst of the chaos when shots rang out.
“Some members and non-members had a party in Richmond to celebrate getting into membership and something happened there,” he said.
“I am shocked and saddened by this incident that has affected some of our members.”
Gordienko said he does not know whether anyone associated with the union was among the injured.
In neighbouring Surrey, Mounties are investigating three targeted shootings that have claimed four lives in that city this week.
Homicide teams identified known gang associate Manjinder Singh Hairan, 29, as the man shot to death early Tuesday morning in a north Surrey neighbourhood.
The attack came just 36 hours after a double murder in a Surrey apartment garage left John McGiveron and Geordie Carlow, both 33, dead of gunshot wounds.
Just hours before that Jan. 13 incident, police said Manjot Dhillon was the victim of a targeted, gang-related hit, but investigators have not linked any of those crimes and noted the Richmond shooting is unrelated.
Gang violence rocked Metro Vancouver in 2011, when police issued a public warning saying anyone near gangster Sukh Dhak, who was also associated with the so-called Duhre group, could be in danger.
Dhak and his bodyguard Thomas Mantel were gunned down in Burnaby, a month after notorious gangster Jonathan Bacon was shot dead in a daring gangland hit in Kelowna, where several of his associates were injured.
Bacon’s brother, Jamie Bacon, is among four men accused of first-degree murder in a 2007 mass killing, in which six people — including two innocent bystanders — were shot in a Surrey highrise.
Jamie Bacon’s middle brother, Jarrod, is serving a 12-year sentence on drug trafficking charges.
Various gang trials have clogged the courts in B.C., and suspects charged in the Surrey highrise murders have not yet had their cases heard.