Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)

COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

An expert on gangs says the very public nature of a recent series of shootings in Metro Vancouver may be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, with rivals striking at the first chance they get.

Martin Bouchard, a professor in Simon Fraser University’s school of criminology, says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings.

He says gang violence follows its own course regardless of what the initial motive was for the conflict.

The comments come as police leaders meet today with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about the shootings that have left gang members dead or injured on streets, in mall parking lots and at Vancouver’s airport.

Farnworth says he expects to get an assessment of the situation from police leaders and determine what additional steps, if any, are required.

Supt. Dave Chauhan, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, says there could be many reasons for the conflict, including personal vendettas or drugs and territorial disputes.

He says the police are seeing more young people forming gangs and that there are splinter groups from those leading to multiple gangs.

Premier John Horgan said this week the government wants to make sure that they’re “focused like a laser” on addressing criminality.

“The first order of business of course is to stop the flow of young people into the gang lifestyle,” he said Tuesday.

“But clearly the brazen nature of the violence we’ve seen over the past two weeks requires law enforcement intervention.”

Bouchard says he’s confident police have a good handle on the situation.

“And they know that as the age of the victims gets younger, they need to innovate in terms of their ability to get inside (the gangs).”

This means that informants need to be younger and the police also have to have experts who can find information online.

“And my sense is that the analysts and sometimes civilians working for law enforcement are getting better and better at finding information on these people online through open source intelligence methods,” Bouchard says.

He says these gang conflicts tend to go in cycles and once they start, they take on a life of their own.

“Sometimes these start based on perception of disrespect between two people,” he says.

“It could be, you know, a romantic relationship gone wrong. Regardless of the initial motive, we are in a cycle of retaliation. It will follow its course to its — hopefully — conclusion very soon.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

crime

Just Posted

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read