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Arrests in Delta Grand shooting spell relief for Kelowna
Three men have been arrested for the murder of Red Scorpion gang leader Jonathan Bacon who was gunned down in the summer of 2011 while sitting in an SUV at the entrance of the Delta Grand Hotel.
Charged with first degree murder are Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun, 25, of Surrey, Michael Kerry Hunter Jones, 25, of Gibsons, and Jason Thompson McBride, 37, of North Vancouver, the RCMP's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit revealed Monday.
Announced in a press conference shortly before the weekly Kelowna city council meeting—during which Mayor Walter Gray was quick to point out the case is more a provincial concern than a local one—the news offered solace to those who were downtown on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011 as three gunmen sprayed the SUV, hotel and surrounding buildings with bullets.
"I think, like any member of the community, we're relieved," said Kelowna Art Gallery executive director Nataley Nagy.
Her staff proved the embodiment of grace under pressure when a bullet pierced the gallery's front window during the middle of Family Sunday programming.
The group would received a letter of thanks from then-mayor Sharon Shepherd for quickly evacuating the room where the bullet hit, corralling patrons to the back of the facility and locking them in a safe room.
Nagy remembers the utter confusion of the aftermath, not knowing if it was safe to release people back out into the open as police descended on the scene.
Thankfully, The Color Room hair salon, located directly beside where the SUV had stopped, was closed that day; another stray bullet was found lodged in its bathroom.
But several members of Bacon's entourage were not so lucky, landing directly in harm's way.
The trio arrested on Friday were thus also charged for the attempted murders of Hells Angel Larry Amero, now jailed in Montreal, and Independent Soldier James Riach, who has taken cover in the months since, as they were seated in the SUV with Bacon.
Two young women, Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black, were also in the white Porsche Cayenne. Hadden-Watts, the niece of a prominent Hells Angel, is now a quadriplegic, CFSEU Chief Superintendent Dan Malo said.
A fourth man was apparently also involved in the attacks, though he is already dead and was not named in the press conference.
"This violent incident rocked the city of Kelowna in an act so brazen that it might have been mistaken for a bad action movie," Malo said in the press conference.
The arrests were part of an 18-month investigation called E-Nitrogen, and were made after 100 officers in Vancouver, Kelowna and Toronto executed simultaneous search warrants.
Khun-Khun, 25, who has survived three targeted shootings believed to be in retaliation for Bacon's death, was arrested at his residence in Surrey, while Jones, 25, was arrested at his home in Vancouver.
McBride, 37, was arrested in Toronto, where he had recently moved, but has been transferred to B.C.
All three have been remanded in custody and were to appeared in a Surrey courtroom Monday, though only Khun Khun's appearance, put off until March 8, could be confirmed at press time.
The Bacon hit is thought to be just one small part of retaliation for the death of gangster Gurmit Dhak, head of the prominent Indo-Canadian gang known as the Dhak Group. He was gunned down in a parking lot of Burnaby's Metrotown shopping centre in October of 2010. Upwards of 20 shootings have been linked to the incident the Vancouver Sun has reported.
The Dhak and Bacon killings have forced alliances police might not have seen before, Malo said, and Gurmit's brother, Sukh Dhak, has since been killed. He died in a shooting in the lobby of the Excecutive Inn Hotel and Conference Centre in Burnaby in November of 2012 along with his bodyguard Thomas Mantel.
Amero, Riach and Bacon were meeting as part of the newly formed gang-alliance known as the Wolf Pack when they were killed.
Malo commended the people of Kelowna for their selfless bravery in performing first aid on the day of the shooting, and for their good citizenship in providing RCMP with tips and information in the months since.
He noted the intense scrutiny the RCMP has faced in the aftermath was warranted, if difficult, and said the arrests simply weren't going to happen overnight.