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'Something's happened to dad': Surrey widow recalls mistaken identity shooting
The ongoing gun violence in Metro Vancouver is taking a devastating toll, and for the families of innocent victims, the pain doesn't ease with time.
Heartache is a feeling the widow of Surrey hockey coach and father Paul Bennett knows well. Darlene Bennett and her family are preparing for Christmas, but already they know it won't be the same.
"It's incredibly hard. The stockings haven't gone up because I can't do that," she told CTV News in her first sit-down interview.
Another of their decorations serves as a tribute for the 47-year-old, who was gunned down on his driveway in June in what police believe was a case of mistaken identity.
"The boys put his baseball hat on top of the tree because it's our angel," Darlene said.
Paul worked as a nurse, like his wife. He was headed to a colleague's retirement party when he was shot.
His family was home at the time. His boys heard a noise and ran outside.
"They came back and said, 'Something's happened to dad,' and I ran out there," Darlene recalled through tears.
"And I was… I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. My 12-year-old called 911 and I just started CPR. I tried to do everything I could but I knew he was gone."
Darlene says what she and her sons witnessed that day is not something they'll forget.
"I can't erase what they've seen, I can't erase the images in my head, I can't erase the sounds that I heard. It's with me. It's going to be with me for the rest of my life," she said.
The death of their father left his children with ongoing safety concerns, one even worrying about being on the school playground.
"He asked for a note. If I could write him a note – if he could stay inside at lunch and recess – because he feared being shot," Darlene said.
The Lower Mainland has seen other innocent victims killed by senseless violence recently. Teenager Alfred Wong was hit by a stray bullet in a gunfight on a Vancouver street in January, and Abbotsford senior Ping Shun Ao was struck by a bullet aimed at his neighbour's home in 2015.
Police continue to investigate each of these cases, but so far, no charges have been laid. Mounties say the investigation into Paul's shooting is active and ongoing.
His wife is urging anyone with information about his death to go to police.
"Do the right thing. Do it for my kids. My kids deserve it. They need this closure," Darlene said.
She says Paul, whose loss is felt so deeply over the holiday season and every day, also deserves justice.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro