Extra Mounties in Kamloops for murder victim’s services
If you’ve noticed more police than normal on the streets of the Tournament Capital in recent days, you’re not being paranoid.
Kamloops Mounties have stepped up their presence — and brought in backup from the highway patrol and the provincial gang task force — in an effort to curb any retaliatory violence stemming from last week’s murder outside a downtown school.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said an additional 20 officers will be patrolling Kamloops this week, coinciding with the beginning of Archie LePretre’s funeral services, which began on Wednesday, March 30.
LePretre, 23, was killed during a fight on the basketball court outside Stuart Wood elementary school on March 22.
Police believe LePretre and his cousin were playing basketball when they were approached by three armed men wearing bandanas over their faces.
A fight ensued and LePretre was killed. Cause of death has yet to be released.
Mounties were quick to rule the homicide an act of gang violence.
LePretre is not alleged to be involved with organized crime, but his cousin — who was also injured in the attack — is believed to be a member of a known street gang, police say.
The attackers are thought to have been from a rival gang, though Mounties will not release the names of either gang involved.
Learned said additional officers on the street are being deployed as a precaution.
“These steps are being taken to acknowledge the reasonable presence the public would expect of the police force,” he said.
“While the probability [of retaliation] is not high, the possibility is ever-present.”
Sgt. Shinder Kirk, from the combined forces special enforcement unit on the Lower Mainland, was in Kamloops this week to speak to the media.
In 2004, the combined forces special enforcement unit was created to integrate the Organized Crime Agency of B.C., municipal police departments and the RCMP in investigations of criminal organizations.
Kirk said the precedent for retaliatory violence has been set in the Lower Mainland, so police are now cautious any time there’s a gang-related murder.
“We’ve seen violence like that occur,” he said.
“There could be retaliation by rival groups.”
Though the gangs involved haven’t been named publicly, there is one First Nations street gang — the Redd Alert — known to be active in Kamloops.
Kirk said native gangs are relatively new on the organized-crime scene in B.C., and generally operate near the bottom of the province’s crime-power structure.
“First Nations groups really have come on the scene lately,” he said.
“My understanding is that they’ve migrated from the Prairies either through family connections or the prisons.”
Kirk said aboriginal gangs — like other organized-crime groups — deal mainly in drugs, but also commit fraud and are involved in prostitution.
While the gang task-force officers are in town, Kirk said, they will also be gathering information about organized crime in Kamloops.
“That could be who’s associated with who, who’s driving what,” he said. “It could even be who’s dating who.
“They sometimes give the officers insight of potential issues.”
Kirk said there are friends, associates and members of organized-crime groups in Kamloops, but no one gang has a strong presence in the city.
“I’m not aware of any other gangs that have taken up headquarters in this community,” he said.
“My understanding is there are a number of peripheral players in town.”
No arrests have been made in connection with LePretre’s murder and Mounties have yet to identify any suspects.
Police are looking for three men, all aboriginal. Two of them are stocky, standing between five-foot-six and five-foot-eight. The third stands five-foot-eight, weighing between 180 and 190 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.