Police say recent shootings in Metro Vancouver that injured four innocent bystanders appear to be connected to street-level drug trafficking.
Chief Supt. Ghalib Bhayani, operations officer for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland, says since last April, anti-gang enforcement teams have been expanded and focused their efforts on targeted enforcement, increased patrols and shared intelligence between police units.
As a result, he says police have been able to reduce the number of violent acts since last spring and summer.
But police say this has led to an evolution of street level criminals engaged in interpersonal conflicts, creating violence on Metro Vancouver's streets.
In a statement, Supt. Duncan Pound of B.C.'s anti-gang squad says its investigations into the shootings in Langley, Surrey and Coquitlam — in which one person was killed and the bystanders were hurt — indicate they appear to be connected to the drug trade.
The RCMP did not provide specific details about the incidents. However, CBC reported on a shooting in Langley on January 7 where a bystander was hit by stray bullets, as well as a shooting in Coquitlam that injured two bystanders on January 14.
According to a release from Surrey RCMP, a shooting at a shelter on Jan. 19, where police believe a 24-year-old man was the target, resulted in a 57-year-old female bystander also being shot. The woman suffered minor injuries.
Pound says police don't believe there are any direct links to the Lower Mainland gang conflict.
He says street-level violence can escalate, drawing in groups that are connected to the gang conflict, but he says police agencies are working together to ensure the violence doesn't escalate.