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Families of slain teens plead for information a year after their deaths

Last Updated Jun 4, 2019 at 11:33 am PDT

Jaskarn Jason Jhutty (left) and Jaskaran Jesse Bhangal are shown in Integrated Homicide Investigation Team handout photos. Homicide detectives say the two teenagers are the victims of a targeted shooting in a rural area of Surrey, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Integrated Homicide Investigation Team MANDATORY CREDIT

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – It’s been one year since two teens were killed in a Surrey shooting, and now, their families are renewing their pleas for information in solving their homicides.

On June 4th, 2018, investigators say the bodies of 17-year-old Jaskaran (Jesse) Singh Bhangal and 16-year-old Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty were found in the rural area of 192 Street and 40th Avenue. The teens were last seen playing basketball with a group of friends at George Vanier Elementary.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has said the deaths were believed to be targeted, and on Tuesday, IHIT Cpl. Frank Jang reiterated that belief.

“I can even further tell you that, based on what we’ve learned in the past year, we believe this was gang related,” he said.

Despite this link to gang activity, Jang noted neither of the two teens were known to police or had any interactions with officers.

“In the past year we’ve garnered significant evidence, information. We’ve spoken with a number of people and we also believe that there are people out there with information — some with very intimate knowledge of what happened,” he added.

Families plead for information

“When the police came knocking at our door in the early hours of the morning, it left us in utter shock,” Sharon Bhangal, Jesse Bhangal’s sister, said on Tuesday. “We could not comprehend what had happened, and our family hasn’t been the same since.”

She says her brother would have turned 18 years old this past January, but instead of celebrating his birthday, his family has spent their time wondering who was responsible for his death.

“Although my brother and I were two years apart, both of our birthdays were in January. For the past 17 years, we had celebrated our birthdays together. This time around, he was not here to celebrate it. My birthday will never be the same,” Sharon said.

She described her brother as a generally “happy kid,” who had “so much love to give.” He was also remembered as an “extraordinary individual with a bright future.”

Jesse was expected to graduate this year.

Pawan, Jason’s older sister, said her brother was the youngest of three siblings affectionately called the “baby” of the family.

“This past year without him has been dark and full of pain,” she said. “We have felt his absence in every minute of every day.”

Related article: Teens’ deaths highlight need for youth anti-gang programs, says BC’s public safety minister

Pawan described Jason as a kind and calm person.

“He was a gentle soul — I always thought he was ahead of his time,” she added. “Everyone always had something to learn from him.

She added gang violence was always a topic of discussion within the family since her brothers were in high school.

“Education and knowledge against drugs and gangs were my parents’ number one concern and priority,” Pawan said, adding her brother had no criminal record or any interaction with police.

“It seemed as if we were doing everything right as parents and as older siblings.”

Both Sharon and Pawan are pleading for anyone who may have information about their brothers’ deaths to contact investigators.

-With files from Lasia Kretzel