Visitor restrictions at Vancouver hospital lifted after fears of gang gathering

A deadly targeted shooting in Kelowna, B.C., on Sunday is ramping up anxiety of gang wars across the province.

VANCOUVER — A deadly targeted shooting in Kelowna, B.C., on Sunday is ramping up anxiety of gang wars across the province.

Vancouver General Hospital imposed a controlled access procedure for almost three hours early Monday morning, restricting visitors to the facility, in what a hospital spokeswoman called a safety precaution.

She could not elaborate but RCMP Insp. Bryon Massie said a patient with a known gang affiliation was being treated.

“They wanted to make sure that the staff and any of the patients at the hospital were not going to be subject to any of the influx of their friends coming in, who would have some gang history,” said Massie.

He said the patient was not what he called “a gang player.”

But he wouldn’t say if the patient was linked to the Kelowna attack but agreed people are nervous about a renewed gang war.

“Any time you are dealing with any thing of the nature that took place in Kelowna, I would think that does kind of raise a little bit of a heightened anxiety throughout the whole province,” he said.

Sunday afternoon’s brazen, gangland-style shooting with a machine gun in a bustling tourist area apparently killed a member of one of British Columbia’s most notorious families.

Police have not confirmed numerous media reports that Jonathan Bacon, the eldest of three brothers at the centre of a bloody and long-standing gang war, died of injuries suffered when at least one masked gunman sprayed a white Porsche SUV with bullets.

Five other people in the SUV were rushed to hospital after the attack outside the luxury hotel on Kelowna’s waterfront.

RCMP say the chaos began just after a group of people, including two women, were seen leaving the Delta Grand hotel and getting into the Porsche.

As the vehicle prepared to leave, a silvery-green SUV drove up and stopped behind. At least one person emerged and opened fire.

“All of a sudden I heard all the shots go off,” a hotel employee, who had just finished his shift, told the Kelowna Daily Courier.

He described the sound as similar to fire crackers.

“Then I saw a guy run out to where I could see him, wearing all black, mask, with a total black gun, like a machine gun.

“After peppering the vehicle, he ran back in, jumped into a Ford Explorer and just bolted, super fast, squealing the tires. They didn’t stop to look for traffic or anything.”

The Porsche lurched forward. A smell of smoke lingered in the air.

“After they took off, I went back to see what had happened,” said the man, who asked his name not be used for safety reasons. “The car had crashed into the side of the building, (there were) people with bullet holes in them.”

He ran up to the Porsche and asked the driver, a large muscular man with numerous tattoos, if he should call 911. The driver nodded. The man had what appeared to be a bullet hole in his shoulder, and blood gushed out.

A dark-haired woman was sitting in the rear and a blond-haired woman was slumped over in her seat.

Police spokesman Const. Steve Holmes told reporters this kind of incident is rare in Kelowna.

“However, when it does happen it is shocking and traumatic to those affected by it and is of concern to the people living in this community,” he said at a news conference late Sunday.

“The public needs to know that swift and extraordinary measures are being taken in order to ensure that those responsible will be found and brought to account before the courts.”

Holmes wouldn’t confirm the identity of the lone man killed or provide any information about the victims’ ages, hometowns or relationships, although further information is expected at a mid-afternoon news conference in Kelowna on Monday.

“Police believe the general public is not at risk,” said Holmes, explaining police believe the shooting was targeted.

“It appeared that all the shots fired were directed at one particular vehicle.”

Investigators are now searching for the suspect SUV. No arrests have been made. Police will review video footage from cameras at the hotel and adjoining casino and are asking any witnesses who may have taken photographs or video to come forward.

A local photographer who was watching police work behind yellow tape said the ruckus had calmed by evening. Only guests were being permitted to enter the hotel, said Chris Stanford.

“It’s a very, very popular area, it couldn’t be more public than if it was on a city beach,” he said. “There’s a lot of foot traffic here. The Delta Grand is the largest and fanciest hotel in town.”

Bacon is one of three brothers RCMP have bluntly associated with gangs.

He, and his youngest brother, Jamie, have previously been the target of attempted assassins.

Police have said the Bacon brothers control a gang called the Red Scorpions, which figured in a deadly war that played out on the streets of Metro Vancouver since 2008. Those killings had recently abated.