BY RATTAN MALL
* Increase in homicides – not shots-fired incidents – this year
* It’s hard to predict where this is all going
* Shootings mean possible escalation of violence or potential retaliation
* Victims and those being arrested now are in their teens
* Prevention alone not enough, police need help from parents and families
ABBOTSFORD Police Constable Ian MacDonald told The VOICE this week that they do not call the ongoing deadly feud between two groups of young South Asians the “Townline Hill Conflict.”
It’s graduated to the “Lower Mainland Gang Conflict” now!
MacDonald pointed out: “We don’t call it ‘Townline’ anymore just because it’s become such a Lower Mainland sort of clustering of gang-related issues. So we call it the ‘Lower Mainland Gang Conflict’ now.”
And it suddenly flared up again in a deadly way when 18-year-old Jaspreet Sidhu lost his life last week on Friday (August 4). [See story “IHIT confirms Friday’s homicide victim in Abbotsford was South Asian: Jaspreet Sidhu.”]
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said Sidhu was known to police and affiliated with gang activity. They added the shooting appeared to be targeted.
On Saturday (August 5), another 18-year-old South Asian known to police was injured in another shooting, also believed to be targeted. [See story “18-year-old South Asian known to police injured in Abbotsford targeted shooting.”] But it was not in retaliation for Sidhu’s murder, according to IHIT.
I asked MacDonald if these two incidents were just one of those spikes that have been occurring on and off in this conflict. He replied: “As far as spikes are concerned we are not seeing an increase in shots-fired incidents. We certainly had a clustering that took place on the weekend, but we are up in terms of homicides this year. However, shots-fired incidents overall are not seeing an increase and actually, believe it or not, there is a slight decrease in the number of calls that we have in the violent crime category.”
But wasn’t the situation concerning, I asked.
MacDonald replied: “Any time you see people who are involved in gangs and drugs engaged in shooting incidents, it’s concerning because you are afraid that there is going to be an escalation or potential retaliation. So we have to be alert and prepared for that at any time obviously.”
“What’s the response of South Asian families now since you have reached out to them?” I asked.
MacDonald said: “I think it would be best described as mixed – and maybe that would be anticipated. You get some people who I would say are quite receptive and concerned. But at the other end of the scale, you get people who seriously do not want to do much to assist with public safety, community safety, and aren’t willing to do very much to assist police.”
“Where do you think this is going right now?” I asked.
MacDonald replied: “It’s hard to say. It’s really hard to predict. I appreciate that we had a very concerning weekend but if you look at the time before that, we went through a period where in most of the news releases that I was putting out we were talking of arrests that we made of people involved in the gangs – not all of it, but the fact that our arrests as well as the people who were the shooting victims this weekend were all young males. So I think that’s quite telling. We are not either arresting or coming across victims that were in their 30s, we are arresting and coming across victims who are in their teens.”
“So that means recruiting in the schools is still going on?” I asked.
MacDonald noted: “I don’t think it ever would stop and that’s why prevention is such a big part of what we do as well. But prevention alone isn’t going do it. We need help from parents and families.”