With a long-simmering gang conflict in Abbotsford showing signs of coming to a boil, police in that city have released an unusual warning.
“It is not just a possibility that those engaged in the conflict will become victims of the violence but, increasingly, it is a likelihood,” says the statement from the Abbotsford Police department.
It follows a dive-by Monday in the Townline Hill neighbourhood, which left a 20-year-old man dead.
Constable Ian MacDonald says police are concerned about an escalation.
“We think that his involvement, as minor as it may seem in the big scheme of things may have been enough to put him in that arena.”
But MacDonald says today’s warning isn’t just aimed at gang members.
“Certainly based on recent events, we just can’t take the chance that there won’t be another act or there won’t be another retaliation, and our fear is that those who are not directly involved in the conflict will find themselves the targets just because they’re in the vicinity of those who are.”
That message is abundantly clear in today’s statement, which sets a grim tone:
“Far less common is that we would extend our warning to friends, families and associates of these gang members,” it says.
“This is one of those times. In the strongest possible terms, we must emphasize that it is not safe to be in the company of those involved in the Lower Mainland Gang Conflict.”
Drug and gang conflict across the Lower Mainland has been an ongoing concern.
In Abbotsford, it’s taken the form of a three-year-long turf war dubbed the Townline Hill conflict, leading to bullet sprayed residential neighbourhoods and police-installed surveillance cameras on several corners.
Today’s warning comes after at least four targeted shooting incidents since the new year.
Back in September of 2015, an Abbotsford senior was killed after being hit with a stray bullet in a similar drive-by shooting.
With files from Matt Lee