Grieving widow blames Surrey mayor for bloodshed, putting 'lives in jeopardy'
VANCOUVER - A brazen daylight shooting in a shopping complex remains like most murders in Surrey: unsolved.
Now the city's mayor and a grieving widow are arguing over who's to blame.
When Darlene Bennett heard the piercing sound of wailing sirens of Saturday's shooting in the Clayton Heights neighbourhood, she said she was taken back to that day when her husband was killed in their driveway.
"Another family is going to get a knock on their door – too many people are dying," Bennett said.
Unlike most of the deadly shootings in the city, which are often linked to gang violence, her husband, Paul, was killed in a case of mistaken identity on June 23, 2018.
Saturday's shooting, which took place just blocks from Bennett's home, is believed to be targeted.
Homicide investigators said the victim, a 29-year-old Surrey man, was known to police. On Monday, IHIT released crucial videos of the suspect and a car racing down the road.
Bennett said blood is on the mayor's hands, arguing he hasn't done enough.
"I am placing the blame on him; he's done nothing to help the situation. The crime isn’t going to wait for his police transition plan -- that could be two years down the road," she said. "I think he's putting all our lives in jeopardy by not taking action."
Meanwhile, Mayor Doug McCallum is placing the blame on the province, saying "bureaucratic red tape" is slowing down the transition to a municipal police force.
"The situation appears to be getting worse with each incident, as the gangs are so embolden (sic) that they don’t think twice about opening fire in daylight, in public areas or near schools," McCallum said in a statement.
In August, the provincial government gave Surrey the green light to replace its RCMP detachment with its own municipal police force. McCallum declared that was a "great and historic day for the residents and businesses of Surrey" at the time.
But now, he said the lack of progress is frustrating.
"It is a slow process and [the province] is trying to slow it down even more by setting up these committees that we don't need," he told reporters Monday.
Bennett doesn't buy into the idea that a Surrey police department will make the community safer.
She argues more proactive steps need to be taken to offer social services.
"I don't know what [McCallum] thinks a local police force is going to do that the RCMP aren't," she said. "I think this issue is so much bigger—it is about parenting, it's about mental health and it's about addictions."
Some share her sentiment. A survey sponsored by the group “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” found 54 per cent of residents were opposed to a municipal police force.
Details of the transition plan were released by the city earlier this year and critics have argued the new police force will cost $19 million more, and provide for about 40 fewer officers.
A joint committee was established last month to oversee the transition process, led by former attorney general Wally Oppal.
The city's current contract with the RCMP expires in March 2021, and the Surrey police force is expected to be up and running in April 2021.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Regan Hasegawa and Alissa Thibault