The mayor of Surrey and B.C.’s new Solicitor General met on Thursday to come up with a plan in response to the escalating violence in the city, after Surrey saw three shootings in less than 12 hours this week.
The meeting itself was held behind closed doors, but Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and Farnworth, who is also the province’s public safety minister, addressed media afterwards and answered questions about their plan.
They didn’t give concrete details—Farnworth saying he was worried about tipping off the perpetrators the police are trying to catch--but they stressed that they will be tough in their approach to the spike in gun violence.
“We are coming after you. We are not going to stop. You’re going to be convicted and you’re going to jail,” Farnworth said.
In just under twelve hours on Tuesday, two daylight shootings in Clayton Heights and another in Fraser Heights later in the day ended with a man in hospital. Two days later, police have not made any arrests.
The escalation of violence has many people scared of leaving their homes, which Hepner says is unacceptable for her city.
“It’s maddening to me that anyone in a community would feel unsafe,” she said.
The number of shootings has left questions about where the perpetrators got their weapons.
Officials are also appealing to families whose children are involved in the violence.
“If you know these young men… if you have information, we need that information. It’s your civic responsibility,” Hepner said.
Earlier this month, Surrey RCMP released names and photos of five victims of targeted shootings, warning the public to stay away from them. Hepner added lack of co-operation from victims is another hurdle police are facing that makes investigations more difficult.
“We’re dealing with so-called victims. But when you’re a victim, you generally come and say, ‘This is what happened to me.’ What we’re faced with is no information,” she said.
Over the past few years, Surrey has received more than 100 new police officers and more funding for gang prevention. But Hepner says the problem is no longer a lack of resources, but a lack of strategy.
She wants an integrated, co-ordinated, regional approach to violent crimes.
“My wish list is about… early intervention and end gang life options,” Hepner said.
With a report from CTV’s David Molko.