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'Scary, surreal': Witness describes Willowbrook Mall shooting scene

Last Updated May 3, 2021 at 11:35 pm PDT

Summary

According to police, they were called to Willowbrook Mall around 3:30 p.m. Monday

Police say the shooting does not appear to have been random, a burning vehicle was found soon after in Aldergorve

LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) — One man has been shot and seriously injured outside a busy Langley shopping mall.

According to police, they were called to Willowbrook Mall around 3:30 p.m. Monday where they found one man with “potentially life-threatening” injures. Although it is early in the investigation, a spokesperson for the Langley RCMP says it does not appear to be a random shooting. A car was found burning at a berry farm in Aldergrove around 4 p.m., and police are trying to figure out if the two incidents are related.

Cpl. Holly Largy says both the timing and location of the shooting are “infinitely concerning.” This shooting follows another one at a Lower Mainland mall over the weekend. On Saturday, a 29-year-old corrections officer was killed outside of Scottsdale Centre in Delta, also in daylight while the mall was full of shoppers.

“They have no regard for public safety, and for and for who and what is around them, so it’s of huge concern. Obviously, there’s a plea to anyone who knows anything about this — and there are people who know things — to come forward and give us some information so that we can stop this from happening,” she says.

Dawn Muckle was at the mall with her 11-year-old daughter at the time of the shooting. They were in line, just about to pay for their purchases when they heard an announcement come over the loudspeaker warning of an “emergency situation” outside.

“I kind of made eye contact with the cashier. Based on what’s been going on lately, with the shootings, I just said to her, ‘Hey, is there a shooter outside?’ She said ‘Yes,”‘ Muckle explains.

“I grabbed my child and by that time everyone — I suppose people heard her confirm that — so everybody started ducking. We all just kind of made our way pretty quickly to the back of the store, and we were all kind of huddled back there thinking, ‘What next?’

Noting a number of families with children were in the store at the same time as she was, Muckle says there was a strained silence.

“It was really quiet, it was eerily quiet,” she says.

“It’s so scary, you see it on the news but to actually be in that was pretty surreal.”

Muckle says she’s used to stress, lockdowns, and emergencies because she works as a ER nurse, but this was different because her child was with her.

“My focus was just being pretty calm, so that she didn’t feed off of any anxious energy that I might have had, but I tell you, the hair on my arms was standing up for quite some time,” she says, adding she is worried about how this could affect her daughter.

“She seems okay on the outside, but I don’t know things may show up for her in a couple of days. Kids react a lot differently than adults do, they process things a lot differently. So, we’ll just have to make sure that she’s got support, and knows that we’re safe.”

Being at the scene of a shooting while running an after-school errand has left her shaken.

“That’s not how I envisioned my afternoon going. It just hits home. This is real. It kind of makes me think twice about going to places like that. I mean, COVID is enough of a reason to stay home but I feel really uneasy about it all, for sure.”

Related: Metro Vancouver police leaders pledge action after three deadly shootings in five days

There have been a number of very public shootings in the region recently that police have described as “targeted.”

On April 17,  31-year-old Harpreet Singh Dhaliwal, was gunned down outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Vancouver, and investigators said he has known ties to the Brothers Keepers gang. Three days later, another man was gunned down in broad daylight outside of the Langley Sportsplex. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team identified him as Todd Gouwenberg, a 46 year old former mixed martial artist who had links to the United Nations gang. That same week,  Another man was killed at a Coquitlam park, and police also described that shooting as targeted, but did not link it to gangs.

Meantime, police tape has gone up around the mall parking lot.

“The area surrounding the scene will be cordoned off for a significant amount of time,” according to a statement from police.

Witnesses are being asked to call 604-532-3200 and anyone who was in the area is being asked to review their dashcam footage. Anonymous tips can be submitted to CrimeStoppers.