Mayor of Surrey gets political over latest fatal gang shooting
The fatal shooting of a 22-yearold man in a Surrey neighbourhood early Friday was a tragically familiar moment of violence in a city beset by a roiling battle for gang turf.
What’s different this time is the politicization of the incident in its immediate aftermath, as Surrey’s new mayor waded in with his views on the killing even as homicide investigators worked at the crime scene.
At 1:30 a.m. Friday, a 22-year-old man who police say is linked to the continuing gang war was shot in the 14200-block of 70A Avenue.
By 10:15 a.m., Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum issued a statement calling it “yet another example of the ongoing trauma and fear that are being inflicted on the communities, residents and families of Surrey.
“This latest incident of deadly gun violence further emphasizes the need for the City of Surrey to have its own city police force.”
Despite the new city council having been sworn in just days ago, McCallum also suggested the move to a city police department is running into “roadblocks” from the provincial government.
“I am dismayed by the resistance that is being encountered at the provincial level. The overwhelming mandate that we have been given by the people is to complete the transition to a Surrey Police Department as quickly as possible,” said the mayor.
The commanding officer of the RCMP in the province responded about six hours later with her own strong words.
“Statements like this risk undermining public trust and confidence in policing,” said deputy commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr.
“With a homicide of this nature, people are already reluctant to come forward. Any erosion of public trust and confidence challenges our ability to solve complex cases with assistance from people who are often reluctant to participate in the first place.”
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth also responded to McCallum’s claims in a statement, saying the government is working with Surrey on its policing plan.
“No one is putting up any roadblocks,” said Farnworth.
“We are prepared to work with the mayor. He has to be willing to work, too. A new police force isn’t created over the weekend, but the province is committed to working with the city as they move forward.”
The minister said the government wants to make sure a strong plan is in place that ensures people in Surrey have policing they can be confident in.
The government has invested in anti-gang programs in Surrey and enhanced policing and will continue to work to ensure people feel safe, he said.
Premier John Horgan said there is a “serious issue” with gang shootings in the Lower Mainland and the province wants to address that. He said the province would work with McCallum when the mayor offers a plan.
“We need to have a plan. You can’t just get in front of a microphone and say, ‘Why haven’t you fixed this?’ It takes work and he knows that full well.”
The shooting death of a 22-year-old man early on Friday in the 14200-block of 70A Avenue in Surrey has been linked to a gang battle.