VANCOUVER -- The BC Prosecution Service has approved first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Harpreet Singh Dhaliwal outside a restaurant in Vancouver's Coal Harbour neighbourhood last weekend.

Vancouver police said in a news release Saturday that 51-year-old Francois Joseph Gauthier had been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of possessing a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm without authorization.

Gauthier remains in custody until his next court appearance, police said. Online court records indicate that he is scheduled for a bail hearing in Vancouver on April 29 at 9 a.m.

Police were called to Cardero's restaurant around 8:30 p.m. on April 17 for reports of shots fired. First responders found Dhaliwal at the scene and were unable to revive him.

Dhaliwal was known to police, and police have said previously that he was the intended target of the shooting.

The killing of the 31-year-old from Abbotsford is believed to be gang-related, one of 15 gang-related murders in B.C. so far this year.

On Thursday, police agencies from across the Lower Mainland expressed concern about the escalating gang violence, saying "suppression efforts" and patrols throughout the region were being stepped up.

B.C.'s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, which is the province's anti-gang task force, said it believes some of the violence is linked to previous conflicts that have been ongoing for decades, but there are several other factors at play.

“New and quickly changing alliances and allegiances, family connections, competition over drug lines, backstabbing and debt collection,” CFSEU Asst. Commissioner Manny Mann said Thursday, listing reasons for recent gang-related killings.

Dhaliwal's slaying was the first of three in Metro Vancouver in a span of six days.

On Monday, April 19, 20-year-old Bailey McKinney was shot and killed at a basketball court in Coquitlam's Town Centre Park.

Then, on Thursday, April 22, 46-year-old Todd Gouwenberg was gunned down in broad daylight outside the Langley Sportsplex.

While Gouwenberg had ties to gangs and police have not ruled out gang activity as a possible motive for Bailey's killing, police have not publicly drawn direct connections between the three shootings. Indeed, police said Thursday that Gouwenberg's death was not connected to Dhaliwal's or Bailey's.