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Police in Burnaby try to address concerns after recent gang shootings

Police on scene at Burnaby's Market Crossing following a fatal shooting on Thursday, May 13th, 2021. (Ashley Burr, CityNews Photo)

A webinar was held Tuesday for concerned Burnaby residents in the wake of deadly gang-related shootings

Burnaby Gang Enforcement Team says 'gang culture has become more sophisticated, more complex'

Gang conflict on Lower Mainland has resulted in several shootings in recent weeks, including in Burnaby

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Police in Burnaby are trying to calm the nerves of some residents after shootings in that city in recent weeks left two people dead.

On Tuesday, the RCMP held a Zoom webinar to help address some local concerns.

One question asked was around what is behind the recent escalation in violence, with fatal shootings taking place in cities across the Lower Mainland.

Sgt. Sharon Matharu, commander of the Burnaby Gang Enforcement Team, said there are many factors at play. However, she noted police are now dealing with a new generation of criminals.

“Different mentality, to be quite honest, and we’re dealing with some firepower that is maybe a little bit different than historically what we’ve seen,” she said.

“The gang culture has become more sophisticated, more complex. They are aware of some of our investigative techniques,” Matharu added.

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She notes the digital age has also brought its own challenges.

“Contributing factors could even be social media, TV, Hollywood, glamourization of gangs and the violence,” Matharu said.

A shooting on Thursday, May 13, outside the Cactus Club patio in Burnaby’s Market Crossing left one person dead and two others serious hurt.

That incident came about a week after a 19-year-old was shot and killed in broad daylight after leaving a business in the area of 6th St. and 13 Ave. Police later confirmed that an innocent bystander was also hit, and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Aman Gill, who is with the Burnaby RCMP Victim Services Program, said on Tuesday it’s understandable that many people may be feeling unsafe.

“A sense of fear has probably kicked in. Panic, anxiety, anger that this has happened in your community,” she told those on the webinar.

Gill stressed the importance of taking care of our mental health, especially if we are feeling scared or unsafe.

“Do things that make you feel good,” she explained. “That means talking to your friends, your family, writing, reading. If you’re artistic, finding that avenue to use that to keep you grounded.”

Gill also had a message for parents who are trying to address the topic of gang violence with their children.

“When we start feeling or having the sense of flashbacks or reoccurring thoughts, these are very normal for our brain for us to process what’s happening. You just have to not fight those thoughts, let it process, over time it will diminish,” Gill said.

This week, police on the Lower Mainland released the names and pictures of gangsters in the interest of public safety.

On Tuesday, B.C.’s anti-gang agency publicly identified 11 men, most in their 20s, who investigators say may be targets for future violence.

Three of those men were on a similar list released by Vancouver Police the day before.

-With files from Monika Gul