A recent rash of shootings in the Langley area is likely the result of a conflict between less well-established “punk” gangs who have few options beyond violence when they are challenged.
That is the assessment of University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) criminologist and professor emeritus, Yvon Dandurand, following three Langley-area shooting incidents in as many days.
On Thursday, Sept. 17, one man ended up in hospital after a shooting incident near the Surrey-Langley border.
Just before 10:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the area of 194 Street and 34 Avenue for reports of gunfire, where officers located a man suffering from gunshot wounds, who was transported to a regional trauma hospital. Further south, in the 18100-block of 12 Avenue, a burned-out vehicle was located.
Then, on Friday, Sept. 18, two men were taken to hospital after gunfire erupted in the Brookswood neighbourhood of Langley early in the morning.
It happened in the area of 212th Street and 42nd Avenue, directly to the north of Langley Fundamental Middle and Secondary School, shortly after 5 a.m.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, two people started shooting at each other at a Langley gas station near 232nd Street and 72nd Avenue around 11 p.m.
They fled the scene before police arrived. No injuries were reported.
“It’s an indication of the fact the gangs are not getting along,” according to Dandurand, a UFV faculty member in the university’s Criminology and Criminal Justice department.
And, probably, smaller, less well-established gangs.
“Not well-connected, not particularly powerful,” Dandurand theorized.
“Just a bunch of punks.”
Unlike bigger, better established gangs, the smaller organizations lack resources and are compelled to respond in kind when they are attacked, or risk a hazardous loss of reputation.
“If you let one group think you are incapable of violence, you’re done,” Dandurand related.
“It’s survival for them. They can’t take each other to court, they can’t call the police. The gun is an immediate solution.”
Usually, gangs understand it is in their best interest to get along.
But when one criminal group becomes weak – if, for example, it starts having trouble supplying dealers with drugs – another gang will move into their territory.
“It upsets the balance of power” Dandurand said.
“When gangs and players are stabilized, it’s not in their interest to be violent.”
Older, bigger and better-established gangs have options beyond public displays of violence to settle disputes, Dandurand noted.
Dandurand said the clashes between gangs do not mean an increase in the crime rate, and he does not believe the violence is predictably cyclical.
“It comes in spurts,” Dandurand said.
Dandurand said the current conflict will wind down because the gangs simply can’t keep it up.
“They are all looking over their shoulders. They get tired. They can’t sustain the violence indefinitely.”
While members of the public are not at direct risk, there is still a hazard, Dandurand said.
“Unfortunately, every so often, there’s a bystander who gets caught [in the crossfire],” Dandurand noted.
Langley RCMP Sgt. Rebecca Parslow said the two Langley incidents were believed to be “targeted” shootings that are not believed to be connected, adding police understand the concern because they happened in public spaces.
She said she could not speak to the Surrey incident.
Parslow said anyone with information that might assist the investigation is asked to call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200. Or, to remain anonymous, they can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit www.solvecrime.ca.