‘Basically the community needs to know the violence the kids are causing’: Vancouver Police officer
BY RATTAN MALL
JASKARAN Singh Heer, 19, of Vancouver who was charged with possession of a restricted weapon, unauthorized possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose last week by Vancouver Police is alleged to be one of the key figures in the ongoing gang conflict between two South Asian groups of youths that The VOICE was the first to report about last February in my article titled “Is South Slope of Vancouver headed back to notorious days of Bindy Johal versus Dosanjh brothers type of rivalry?”
Heer, as we reported last week, was one of four male occupants of a car that police officers searched at the Esso gas station at Kingsway and Victoria Drive on August 7 and located bear spray and a bag containing a .44 calibre revolver, a box of ammunition and gloves.
The Vancouver Police Gang Crime and Major Crime Units said they have been investigating a number of shootings, assaults, arsons and other acts of vandalism, all believed to be related and linked to the two opposing groups.
WHEN I wrote the above-mentioned piece in February, it shocked many people who were totally unaware of the volcano they were sitting on, so to speak. At that stage it seemed that police were keeping a lid on all the brewing tensions.
As I wrote six months ago, police sources told me: “It started over petty stuff just like Johal and Dosanjh over high school things – a girl was involved and then as they got older, they have continued to hate each other and now its escalated to murder because some of them have gotten into criminal activities like drugs and now they answering to higher ups in the South Slope and that’s causing this violence to pick up.” These youths have been “robbing stores, stealing cars, selling drugs, cell phone stuff.”
At that time they were on the defensive because some of them were on probation and were a little bit off-balance. However, police sources added: “They are just laying low right now – but it will pick up” and wondered if things would heat up this summer.
This week, police sources told me that now the rivalry “is out of control.” They added: “They are driving around with loaded guns in their cars. It is similar to the Sanghera versus Manj group where they started doing this thing and then progressed.”
POLICE sources said that basically it’s a conflict between two groups of South Asian youths, from four different families. There are two main players and each of them has a special friend.
Last week, multiple shots were fired at East 22nd and Slocan Street at the house of one of the alleged chief players. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Police sources noted: “Parents aren’t involved – it’s the kids. These are the new kids who are following in the steps of the Sanghera group. Violence is happening … shootings, assaults, arsons: a garage that was burned last week in the 400 East block of 63rd Avenue.” A friend of one of the chief players reportedly lives in that house.
“Violence is escalating to the friends and associates of the two groups,” the sources noted.
They added: “They are volatile groups. The parents don’t get it. We’ve told them to stop giving their kids their cars and all the money they need to go and do this stuff. Keep an eye on them and be strict.
“The parents’ response is quite ridiculous – they are basically saying ‘well, you know a fight is a fight’ or ‘we can’t control them.’”
A South Asian police officer said: “The community needs to know who’s involved. The community needs to know the seriousness of the violence. The community needs to know that they don’t need to be afraid – please help us. The biggest thing is that nobody wants to help us because nobody wants to be known as the family or the kids that helped us. But they are ready to have their houses lit on fire, their cars broken but they don’t want to help us. They say ‘oh, it’s just kids being kids’!”
He warned: “They are recruiting in schools … parents need to be vigilant that their kids are at school and they are selling marijuana. It starts with marijuana and always ends up with hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. Kids are being recruited in schools because they wanna be cool. They wanna hang out with the cool people but what they are doing is they are driving around and getting caught in violence. Kids are getting recruited in grades as low as eight and nine.”
LAST March, Vancouver Police seized a large quantity of drugs, money and ammunition in an investigation from Vancouver to Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Surrey and announced: “Project Trio was a targeted enforcement initiative aimed at disrupting the supply of drugs coming into the South Slope area of Vancouver. Members of the group are known to be violent and are involved in gang activity in the city.”
Police sources said that this involved one of the two major players in the ongoing conflict.
They told The VOICE this week: “We’ve been seizing lots of weapons and stuff. It’s ridiculous how much violence we deal with.”
They said: “This conflict started over the last few years and it just progressed. This conflict also involves the murder of that kid Akalirai. [January 23 death of Manraj Akalirai, 19, of Vancouver, was brutally slain on January 23, 2013. He had just graduated from Gladstone High School and was attending Langara College.] … They are the same groups that are involved … because that murder happened on the front steps of the house of [one of the chief players in the ongoing conflict].”
They added: “It’s not just your school fight anymore – this is violence where we’ve had a murder, we had shootings, we’ve had assaults, we’ve had arsons, we’ve had all these violent acts in retaliation and basically it’s going to continue – it’s volatile.
“Basically the community needs to know the violence that the kids are causing.”