Police identify Langley homicide victim as a long-standing gang member

·2 min read
A forensics tent covers the spot where gang associate Todd Gouwenberg was shot and killed outside the Langley Sportsplex on Wednesday. (Shane MacKichan/CBC - image credit)
A forensics tent covers the spot where gang associate Todd Gouwenberg was shot and killed outside the Langley Sportsplex on Wednesday. (Shane MacKichan/CBC - image credit)

The man shot to death outside the Langley Sportsplex Wednesday morning has been identified as 46-year-old gang member Todd Gouwenberg.

Manny Mann of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. said the motive behind the killing is still unknown.

"What I can tell you about yesterday's victim is that his involvement in gangs spans almost 20 years and he was connected to the United Nations gang," said Mann.

Mann was speaking at a media conference of policing leaders trying to reassure the public in the wake of the most recent spate of gang violence that saw three men shot and killed in public spaces over a five-day period.

On Monday evening, Bailey McKinney, 20, was killed at the busy Town Centre Skatepark in Coquitlam.

Harpreet "Harb" Singh Dhaliwal, 31, was gunned down outside Cardero's restaurant on the Vancouver's Coal Harbour waterfront Saturday night.

Investigators say no links have been established between the three killings.

Inspector Michelle Tansey, acting officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said police are naming Langley victim Gouwenberg despite a court-ordered publication ban relating to a different case.

"The release of his name is going to assist in gathering information in relation to his homicide," she said.

According to social media posts, Gouwenberg had a career as a professional mixed martial arts fighter and trainer.

Mann said elements of current gang violence are related to the historic 2008 and 2009 gang war between the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and Wolf Pack versus the United Nations.

He also said new players on the gang landscape are contributing to the escalation.

"Today's gang conflict … is emerging from the Townline Hill conflict [in Abbotsford] and a number of other regional and historical conflicts," he said. "Contributing factors include connections to past conflicts, new and quickly changing alliances and allegiances, family connections, competition over drug lines, backstabbing and debt collection."

According to Mann, there has been an overall reduction in gang homicides provincially the past four years, down from 49 in 2017, to 23 in 2020. He said so far in 2021, there have been 15 gang related homicides.

Lisa Byrne, superintendent of Vancouver Police Investigative Services, said a "significant update" on the Dhaliwal homicide would be announced in the coming days.

Speaking on behalf of Lower Mainland RCMP division, Richmond Chief Supt. Will Ng said police forces were working together and gang suppression efforts in the Lower Mainland are being increased.