Homeless advocates call for housing, treatment in wake of shootings in Langley, B.C.

·2 min read

LANGLEY, B.C. — Advocates in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island say violence against people who are homeless isn't an issue that is isolated to Langley, B.C., and it's time for change.

Kelly Morris says she believed she would have been killed in a shooting at an encampment near Qualicum Beach in 2020 that took three other lives had she not received a phone call warning her to stay out of the area.

Morris, a former drug user who is now an outreach worker, says she's helped more than 600 vulnerable people connect with supports, but there's a desperate need for low-income housing and detox treatment beds.

A gunman killed two and injured two others in Monday's shootings in Langley that police say involved "transient victims," although they also said they have not confirmed if they were homeless.

Police have not established a motive for the violence in the Vancouver suburb, but they say the man they shot dead, 28-year-old Jordan David Goggin, was the killer.

Rachael Allen, a spokesperson for Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver, says it seems like violence against members of the community has escalated and it's time for more compassion.

"Our community is often the victim of judgment and stigma and even violence," says Allen, who works on the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.

"Hearing about this just reminds us that all people deserve dignity and safety."

A community outreach event is scheduled for Tuesday for those affected in Langley in response to the shootings. Representatives from victim services, RCMP, crisis counsellors and other community support groups will offer services.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Twitter saying he's "horrified" by the shooting that spanned six hours.

The post says his heart breaks for the victims' loved ones and communities, and his thoughts are with the injured, adding violence has no place in the community.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the "senseless act of violence" is "extremely disturbing."

Farnworth says he understands that British Columbians are worried and fearful when shootings happen in their neighbourhoods.

The murders in Langley came a day after two men were fatally shot in the resort town of Whistler, in what police said was connected to gangs.

On July 15, a man acquitted in a pair of 1985 bombings targeting Air India planes was shot dead outside his workplace in Surrey.

"We don't yet know the motive behind the shootings. However, with (Monday's) tragic events, I want British Columbians to feel assured as more info becomes available, we will make that known to the public," Farnworth said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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