Brother of boy killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Brother of boy killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

VANCOUVER — The brother of a 15-year-old boy who was killed by gunfire when his family's vehicle passed a brazen shooting in Vancouver says they are still in shock and the death will leave a void in their hearts.

Wilfred Wong spoke about his younger brother, Alfred Wong, at a news conference Monday at the Vancouver police headquarters, telling reporters everything is still "raw" for him and his parents.

"We're all still in shock that something like this could happen to us," he said. "The 15 years that we had with Alfred were far too short, but we know that Alfred is now in heaven with God.

"My parents and I will always love him dearly and his death will leave a void in our hearts. But the years that he had with us will impact our family forever."

Vancouver police have said the boy was heading home to Coquitlam with his parents on Jan. 13 when shots were fired between at least two people. At least one bullet penetrated the vehicle, striking Wong, who died in hospital two days later.

Police said the target of the attack was 23-year-old Kevin Whiteside, who was known to police and also died in hospital.

Chief Const. Adam Palmer said the department deals with criminal activity every day and there are often tragic consequences, but having to deal with the death of an innocent boy has been difficult for everyone.

"Alfred's senseless murder has rocked our community. It's had an impact on the citizens of Vancouver, people throughout Metro Vancouver and our police department," he said.

He said at least 50 officers are working on the case and the team has used specialized investigative techniques, including setting up a mobile command at the scene last Thursday to make it easier for people to come forward.

Palmer said he was not in a position to discuss any potential suspects or say what gun allegedly fired the bullet that killed Wong.

"I've stated before publicly that Kevin Whiteside was armed, and I know the answer to that question, as to who fired the bullet, but I'm not prepared to share that with you right now. We're treating that as holdback evidence," Palmer said.

He said the current cycle of gang violence in Vancouver hasn't been seen in about 10 years. Several groups are at odds over drugs and killing one another, he said, though he declined to name the groups.

Officers have "a very good idea" of what happened the night Wong was killed after speaking to many witnesses and retrieving a significant amount of video, but police are still asking anyone with information to come forward, Palmer said.

"Although we've made a lot of progress, we still have a long road ahead of us as we work to solve the murders of Alfred Wong and Kevin Whiteside."

Wilfred Wong said he was grateful to the officers who were with the family for the first few nights after the shooting, as well as the doctors and nurses at Vancouver General Hospital.

"Everyone gave their best and we're very thankful for that," he said.

Two scholarships have been set up in Wong's name, one through Coquitlam School District 43 and the other through the Hyack Swim Club, where he was a member.

Wong was a bright young man who excelled at his studies, said Caleb Choi, a pastor at the Coquitlam Christ Church of China, where the family are congregants.

"He was enrolled in many of the honours classes at Pinetree Secondary School and was passionate about every course he took," said Choi.

Outside of school, he participated in martial arts, basketball and swimming, and had already completed many of the requirements to become a lifeguard, Choi said.

Wong was preparing to join a leadership camp and had planned to pursue a career in electronic engineering, Choi said. In his free time, he loved playing video games with his friends and travelling the world with his family, he added.

"He was very close to his parents and brother and was loved dearly by them," he said. "Although he was taken from us much, much too soon, he lived his 15 years to the fullest extent."

Wong's funeral will be held at the Coquitlam Alliance Church on Saturday.

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Laura Kane, The Canadian Press