‘Furious’ Surrey mayor will push Horgan for increase on provincial funding for crackdown on gangs

Linda Hepner says she is ‘embarrassed’ after ‘thugs’ shoot innocent bystander, a 64-year-old woman from Ontario

SURREY — Mayor Linda Hepner is “ashamed” that an innocent bystander was hit in drive-by shooting in Surrey on Sunday.

“I just felt so embarrassed,” she told the Now-Leader. “We do such good work, we have such outstanding people living here and all the good things that happen and then these thugs put such a stain on Surrey. I think they’re vile. I don’t know what other word to use for them.”

Hepner said she contacted the victim, a 64-year-old woman from Ontario. She was “grazed” by a bullet, police say, suffering superficial injuries. The shooting happened in the 7700 Block of 147A Street at around 3:30 p.m.

According to Staff Sgt. Dale Carr, the RCMP believe that the intended victims took off in a black Hyundai missing a front bumper while the suspects were seen leaving the area in a red pick-up truck. The red truck was later found on fire in the 9000 block of 150th Street. Witnesses reported that two men were seen running away.

Hepner described the victim as a “gentle spirit” with a “kind demeanour.”

“You could tell it was horrible for her and it’s horrible for all of us.”

“Really, I just wanted to call her and see, first of all, how she was doing and secondly to tell her that was not reflective of the City of Surrey generally. I utilized the scenario, that look at the tens of thousands of people we had in the (FVDED in the Park) concert over the weekend without a single incident. This was totally unacceptable from my perspective.”

Hepner said she’s “furious.”

“We’ve seen our crime rate go down tremendously and then we have this single incident that throws us back into that arena of people being frightened and into that arena of a reputational stain and it just angers me beyond belief. They all need to be behind bars as far as I’m concerned and quite frankly, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that happens.”

Hepner said police are making this file a top priority and are “working around the clock” to find those responsible .

“I know they’ve got some good leads,” she added. “I have every belief that we’ll get them. But it’s just the fact that now we need to keep them.”

The mayor said she wants to see provincial funding increased for cracking down on gangs.

“I intend on talking with our Premier-Designate (John Horgan) as well as our local MLAs to see what it is that they can help with relative to this provincial issue. I would’ve said a Lower Mainland issue around gang suppression, but I think with what we’re seeing now throughout the province we’re going to have to throw more money at gang units.”

Hepner said there were cuts to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit several years ago and it’s time to look at reinstating that funding.

“That’ll be the first thing on my agenda, is it time to bump that up again?”

“The issue is what do you do with these creatures once you get them? There is absolutely no sympathy from me for somebody who does that on the street… I think to end up in such a way that you have zero consideration for the public at large is just beyond comprehension.”

“Here we are, we’re recognized as one of the brightest cities in the world, we have some of the best events that are free for citizens… we provide all the programs we can with recreation for those that are at-risk, we go through the process of engaging the schools and then in the blink of an eye something like this happens and it just creates such a stain on the community that it becomes irreversible for a period of time again and that’s beyond any sense of goodness.”

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

With files from Katya Slepian

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