Edmonton businessman killed in construction-site shooting remembered as hard-working dad

Buta Singh Gill, 57, was killed around noon Monday at this south Edmonton construction site. (Trevor Wilson/CBC - image credit)
Buta Singh Gill, 57, was killed around noon Monday at this south Edmonton construction site. (Trevor Wilson/CBC - image credit)

An Edmonton businessman killed in a daytime shooting Monday at a construction site is being remembered as a loving husband and generous father.

Buta Singh Gill, owner of Gill Built Homes Ltd., was found dead Monday after shots were fired at an apartment complex his company was building in the Cavanagh neighbourhood.

A 49-year-old man was also found dead at the scene. A 51-year-old man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Gill was 57. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.

Homicide detectives are investigating but have released few details.

One witness who spoke with CBC described seeing construction workers flee from the work site after hearing multiple shots fired. A second witness said an armed man fired shots toward two men and then shot himself.

In an update Wednesday, the Edmonton Police Service said an autopsy has confirmed Gill died of gunshot wounds and that the manner of death was homicide.

An autopsy on the 49-year-old determined his cause of death to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. The man's name is not being released because the death has been deemed non-criminal.

No charges will be laid in relation to Gill's homicide "as the suspect is deceased," police said.

EPS said homicide detectives are not looking for any other suspects, but that investigators "are looking into whether this incident has any connection to Project Gaslight, an extortion series targeting home builders from South Asian communities."

Led by the RCMP, Project Gaslight is looking into all similarities and motivations behind extortion schemes targeting South Asian businesses in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

In an interview Tuesday, Bobby Gill said the family remains in shock about the violence of his oldest brother's death.

He does not believe the family will ever have answers about what could have motivated the shooting.

"He was the best brother I could ever imagine," Gill said in an interview with CBC Edmonton.

"Today is a sad day. We didn't want to be here today."

Gill said his brother was an honest man, dedicated to his family. He was known for his generosity and for helping others in Edmonton's Punjabi community.

Buta Gill was driven to succeed from a young age, his brother said.

He was the eldest of three brothers who grew up on the family farm in northeastern India, helping their parents cultivate a mixed crop of wheat, sugar cane, mango and rice.

"He was a very, very hard-working man," Bobby Gill said. "We got it from our parents.

"That's all they did back home — work every day. My mom worked every day on the farm. It's in our blood."

Buta Singh Gill, the owner of Gill Built Homes,
Buta Singh Gill, the owner of Gill Built Homes,

Buta Singh Gill, owner of Gill Built Homes, was killed Monday in a daytime shooting in south Edmonton. Police continue to investigate. (Supplied )

Buta Gill earned a law degree in India before moving to Canada in 1991. The first years in his new country were tough. Finding work was a challenge, his brother said.

Gill spent years as a labourer and then as a poultry plant worker before securing a job driving for Edmonton Transit.

By the mid 2000s, with the help of his brothers, he began to build his home-building business from the ground up, eventually leaving his transit job behind.

'A very bright man'

Gill's luxury home-building company would go on to develop hundreds of homes in neighbourhoods across the city and had recently started constructing larger, multi-unit buildings.

"With our help he got into the home-building business slowly, one house at a time. From there on he built the company right up," Gill said of his brother.

"We worked every day of our life to be where we are today … Because this country has opportunities, but you have to go get the opportunities."

Gill said his brother was involved in various community projects over the years. He had been an active member of the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple community for decades and was helping to fund a major renovation project inside the gurdwara.

Gill said his brother wanted to build a bright future for his son and daughter. He had handed off parts of the company to his children in recent years, giving them a share of his growing success.

"He was a very bright man," Gill said. "A good father, a good husband. I always looked up to him.

"It's a huge loss. He was better than me."

Gill said the man who survived the shooting worked as a civil engineer for his brother's company. He said the man remains in hospital and is undergoing surgeries for gunshot wounds to his face.

Gill said the family is focused on supporting the man through his recovery, and helping those closest to Gill process their grief.

"We're trying to hold his daughter and his wife, and my father together. They're hurting the most."