B.C. solicitor general says stopping 'scourge' of gang violence top police priority

BURNABY, B.C. — Police have mounted an all-out, joint effort to end the "scourge" of gang violence in Metro Vancouver that has seen deadly shootings in public places in recent weeks, British Columbia's solicitor general says.

Mike Farnworth said Friday the public can expect to see a heightened police presence in the Lower Mainland as officers increase patrols.

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He made the comments just hours after another public shooting that left one person dead and two others hurt in the parking lot of a shopping area.

Farnworth said he met with top police officials Thursday and they assured him they'd use all available tools to end gang violence.

"They are absolutely committed to suppressing this cycle of violence," he told a news conference from his home in Port Coquitlam. "This is job No. 1. This is their top priority."

Farnworth said police chiefs told him the RCMP, municipal forces and gang, homicide and crime units are working together to "deal with this scourge that is taking place right now."

A joint statement released Friday and signed by a dozen police leaders says their partnership with policing agencies in the region on the gang-violence issue is unprecedented.

The statement says an intelligence-led enforcement effort is underway, which includes overt and covert operations, targeting people who pose the highest risk to public safety and increasing interaction with those involved in gangs.

Farnworth urged citizens with any information about gang violence to contact police and warned gang members they face a dark future of incarceration or death.

"These gangsters, there's only two ways this is going to end. It's either jail or they're dead. If they're dead they're not mourned by anybody but their family because they're forgotten by everybody else."

There have been 11 shootings in B.C.'s Lower Mainland in less than a month, seven of them deadly and many of them in public places, including shopping centre parking lots, outside restaurants and outside the international departure terminal at Vancouver's airport.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.

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