Man accused in string of arsons, shootings is former lottery winner
The man charged with masterminding a spree of shootings and arsons against people connected to the Justice Institute of B.C. won millions in a home lottery more than a decade ago, CTV News has learned.
Vincent Cheung worked two jobs to make ends meet and was overcome with joy when he received the $2.6 million grand prize showcase home in Kerrisdale through the B.C. Cancer Foundation Lifestyles Lottery, he told reporters in 2003.
“I’ve supported any cause that has to do with cancer,” Cheung said at the time, adding that his father died in 2001. “I buy these tickets every year since 2003.”
But since that lucky win things took a dark path for Cheung, now 40, with reports saying he sold the home just five months later to gangster Miguel Rodriguez for $3 million.
Rodriguez was shot dead in his BMW in 2007 in a hit on Arbutus Street and 33rd Avenue that police described as targeted.
Cheung then bought a house in Langley – the same house heavily armed police raided on Friday. Cheung and a co-accused, Thurman Taffe, were arrested in Burnaby that day, police said.
Cheung is now accused of 23 counts of arson and firearms charges, and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said they believe he is an associate of the United Nations gang.
Police believe Cheung obtained licence plate numbers from the parking lot at the Justice Institute, which trains emergency responders in B.C., then ran those plates by a contact at the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to get addresses. The ICBC employee has been fired, but not charged.
Among the victims were high-profile police officers, including West Vancouver Police Chief Scott Armstrong.
But others were simply people who had parked in that lot.
Those who knew Cheung more than a decade ago say the attacks aren’t like him.
“He was a humble guy. Never lived beyond his means,” said a manager of an auto body shop where Cheung apprenticed who didn’t want to give his name.
“Honestly, I can’t see this in him. But people do change."
Police say there are more people to find – including a man caught on video dousing a home with a jerry can – and they're hoping to get more tips from the public.