VANCOUVER: 19-year-old Manraj Akalirai was murdered by a large group of people who attacked him with swords on Elgin Street near East 47th Avenue Vancouver Wednesday night. Initially the police did not identify Manraj and said that it was drug-related murder. But Friday morning Manraj’s family sent out a strong statement to CBC News saying Manraj was in no way related to gangs or drugs.
Akalirai, who recently graduated from Gladstone High School, was attacked by a large group just south of Memorial South Park, at about 10:30 p.m. PT, police said. Several weapons were used in the attack, including bats, clubs and a sword.
Vancouver police Const. Brian Montague said Friday morning that he had no new information to share with the public about the grisly slaying of Manraj that shocked residents in the east Vancouver neighbourhood.
On Thursday, he said that the teenager was specifically targeted by his attackers and that they suspected he had a connection to the drug trade.
But in a statement sent to the CBC Thursday, the family of Akalirai denied he was connected to that type of criminal activity.
“Our family is devastated by the tragic events involving our son and brother, Manraj. We are still in shock and coping with our loss,” the statement said.
“Manraj was a well-mannered, humble and respectful individual. Contrary to police reports, we maintain Manraj had no drug or gang affiliations.”
A Facebook memorial page has been created called Rest in Paradise Manraj Akalirai, with dozens of posts from close friends and former high school buddies. In one post, he is described as a loving, caring person who was always smiling and having fun.
“He was the kind of person who was always there for his friends and family. They were his priority.” the post says.
In another tribute, Karen Dhaliwal said she will always remember him as “well-mannered and so sweet,” while Kiran Banwait described him as “a very caring and honest person.”
Police said the sword hasn’t been recovered, but they’ve determined it was the weapon that killed Akalirai because of the nature of his injuries and a scabbard found on scene.
Five men aged between 19 and 21 were arrested in connection with the attack. Two have since been released. No charges have been laid.
Police said four of the five suspects were arrested at Vancouver General Hospital, where one suspect was treated for injuries.
Police believe the fight originated in the house next door to the yard where Akalirai was found.
“Manraj was a well-mannered, humble, and respectful individual. Contrary to police reports, we maintain Manraj had no drug or gang affiliations,” the statement said.
Statement sent to CBC News from Manraj Akalirai’s family:
Our family is devastated by the tragic events involving our son and brother, Manraj. We are still in shock and coping with our loss. Manraj was a well-mannered, humble, and respectful individual. Contrary to police reports, we maintain Manraj had no drug or gang affiliations. At this time, our family would like privacy as we grieve the loss of our beloved son and brother.