B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says putting an end to the escalating gang violence that has exploded into a series of recent brazen daylight shootings is the top priority for police agencies in the province.
Farnworth held a news conference Friday to reassure the public after 23-year-old Jaskeert Kalkat was shot and killed Thursday just after 8 p.m. PT at a shopping complex in south Burnaby.
"Every police agency — the RCMP, municipal police, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. — are all working together bringing all the tools they have available to deal with this scourge," he said.
"It is their No. 1 priority."
Kalkat was known to police and affiliated with a gang, according to Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Jang said two other people injured in the shooting — a man and woman in their 20s — were also targeted. Both are in hospital with serious injuries but are expected to survive.
Kalkat's killing near the Cactus Club restaurant at Byrne Road and Marine Way had patio diners diving for cover, some flipping tables to shield themselves. The complex includes several other restaurants, coffee shops and a grocery store.
The homicide is the seventh gang-related killing in three weeks to take place during daylight hours in a busy public setting.
On Sunday, a man well-known to police was gunned down outside the departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport.
A B.C. corrections officer was shot to death in a Delta mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon, while another man was killed in front of the Langley Sportsplex on a Thursday morning.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU) has said some of the violence is related to a gang war that dates back 15 years between the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and Wolf Pack against the United Nations gang.
It also said there are new gang players adding to the violence.
When asked how the gang war and threat to public safety will end, Farnworth said the gangsters will inevitably end up either in jail, or dead.
"If they are dead, they are mourned by no one except for their family because they are forgotten by everybody else," he said. "They need to realize that they are not safe anywhere. And if they have information they need to come forward."
Farnworth said one tool being considered is legislation to allow the naming and shaming of gangsters.
"I know there are constitutional and legal issues around that … but we need to find a way to do more of that," he said.
"The more people know who these individuals are, the more we may get more information and raise awareness of the public to stay away from these people."