Renewed calls for change after latest teen shooting death
Current and former police officers are repeating their calls for change after a 17-year-old boy was shot dead in Burnaby this week.
Mounties in Burnaby found the deceased teen with gunshot wounds in a vehicle in the Mulberry Place housing complex shortly before noon Thursday, though investigators believe the shooting happened closer to 9 a.m. and was likely targeted.
Police did not provide the victim’s name, but family friends have identified him as Jalal Rahimi.
It’s not yet known if Rahimi’s death has any connection to the Lower Mainland gang conflict, but former B.C. solicitor general and decorated police officer Kash Heed says, in general, more young people have become eager to replace older gang member who are either dead or in jail.
"What we have is people who aspire to be these people, to be these gang leaders,” Heed said. "They want to garnish that power and that power comes from them being involved in this particular type of activity."
Rahimi is one of several teenagers to be shot and killed in the Lower Mainland in recent years.
Last August, 18-year-old Meysam Zaki was shot and killed while he was a passenger in a vehicle on the highway near the Kensington overpass.
And in May 2021, 19-year-old Blerton Dalipi was gunned down outside of a Burnaby Business.
A 21-year-old man later pleaded guilty to his murder.
Heed says he’s noticed this shift of kids getting involved at younger and younger ages over the past three years, saying the school system does not have the proper tools in place.
“Some of the programs that we’ve had within our school system over the past 10 years are not giving us what we expected,” Heed said. “These kids that are involved in it now would have been in the school system, and now they're involved in this behaviour."
“We have not stemmed that flow of people to take over,” he said.
Attempting to stem the flow is current police officer and founder of Kids Play Foundation Kal Dosanjh.
The organization aims to keep kids away from the lifestyle of gangs, drugs and violence.
"Some of these kids were coming from troubled, dysfunctional family backgrounds and were seeking acceptance and identity and they found it in the wrong settings,” said Dosanjh. "A lot of these drug dealers and organized crime syndicates will take advantage of that and groom these kids from an early age."
Dosanjh says there needs to be more of a collaborative approach between the school system, law enforcement and foundations like his.
“We're all operating in our own individual silos and compartmentalized from one another,” he said. “If we all learn to work together and collaborate, so much can change over night.”
"The long term solution is going to be focusing on early childhood development and early intervention by providing kids these types of positive resources and constructive outlets from an early age,” he added.
So far, no arrests have been made in Rahimi’s death, but investigators are working to determine if a white Nissan rogue found on fire in Surrey near 173 Street and 101 Avenue is connected to the killing.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen anything or has surveillance video from near either scene to come forward.
IHIT can be reached by phone at 1-877-551-4448 or by email at email@example.com.
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