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RCMP cordon off a crime scene using police tap (JOHN LEHMANN/The GLOBE AND MA)
RCMP cordon off a crime scene using police tap (JOHN LEHMANN/The GLOBE AND MA)

Suspect to face first-degree murder charge in 2012 Vancouver hotel shooting Add to ...

An alleged contract killer accused in a fatal shooting in a restaurant at one of downtown Vancouver’s most upscale hotels has been charged with first-degree murder after a manhunt that ended when the suspect was stopped on a traffic violation in Greece.

Vancouver Police said Wednesday that 25-year-old Rabih Alkhalil will be extradited back to Canada to face prosecution in the January death of Sandip Duhre, who was gunned down in the Bar One restaurant of the Sheraton Wall Centre at about 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2012.

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He is already facing a murder charge in the targeted shooting of a man in June, 2012, on a cafe patio in Toronto’s Little Italy; that case will likely go to trial first.

The Vancouver incident was notorious among the gang conflicts that have rocked the Lower Mainland. Gunfire sent stunned onlookers, including members of the women’s national Cuban soccer team, running in horror. Wednesday’s announcement was a prominent win for police among the various killings now under investigation.

“We believe this was a well-planned public execution involving a co-ordinated and deliberate effort to carry out the murder,” Superintendent Mike Porteous of the Vancouver Police Department told a news conference. “We also believe it was a contract killing related to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.”

The superintendent said Mr. Alkhalil is “part of a group that uses contract killers,” but was not more specific.

Mr. Duhre, 36, was linked by police to drug trafficking, and the police had warned that anyone associated with his criminal organization or its allies could be at peril.

While Supt. Porteous said police treat all homicides “with the greatest of interest,” he conceded this one was especially egregious because it was in a public place – one of the most prominent hotels in British Columbia – with abundant gunfire.

He spoke of video footage showing terrified hotel bystanders during the shooting. “You could see on the video the reaction of terror of the patrons in the hotel. They’re all fleeing or hitting the ground.” He noted the actual shooting was not caught on tape.

Supt. Porteous said progress in other gang incidents led to a situation where some in the gang world were willing to talk, helping police home in on Mr. Alkhalil as part of an investigation that came to involve the RCMP, Sûreté du Québec, Toronto police and even the FBI.

Investigators also went through thousands of hours of relevant video, he said, using tactics akin to those for seeking suspects in the Stanley Cup riots. Investigators tracked Mr. Alkhalil to Montreal, but he had fled Canada.

“We didn’t know where he was, but there were warrants out for his arrest,” Supt. Porteous said.

Then Greek police stopped Mr. Alkhalil a few months ago on a traffic violation. The international warrant led Greek police to realize who they had. Supt. Porteous said he did not know where in Greece the stop occurred.

He said police are looking at “several” other suspects in the case; he declined to name them. “[They] were present and actively involved in the murder,” he said.

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