The sister of a 19-year-old student who was shot in a university parkade in Surrey, B.C., last year says her family can finally start to grieve now that two men have been charged with the crime.
“This isn’t an easy day for us,” Rosie Batalia told a news conference Saturday, when charges were laid in the death of Maple Batalia.
“We’re just hoping that Maple will finally be at peace.”
Twenty-year-old Gurjinder Dhaliwal, known as Gary, was charged with first-degree murder and his 22-year-old associate Gursimar Bedi was charged with manslaughter, using a firearm and being an accessory after the fact.
Ms. Batalia was gunned down at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2011 as she was leaving Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, where she had been studying.
Supt. Kevin Hackett, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said Ms. Batalia’s tragic and violent death left her family, friends and the entire community at a loss.
Police would not comment on whether Dhaliwal was Batalia’s ex-boyfriend, only that investigators knew about both men from the beginning of their 14-month investigation.
“We definitely, from the onset of this investigation, knew who these individuals were,” Supt. Hackett said of Mr. Dhaliwal and Mr. Bedi, adding there’s no indication the men are part of any gang.
“This homicide took place on the Surrey SFU campus where youth develop into our future leaders,” he said. “This had an impact on our community’s overall sense of security and safety.”
Police released a surveillance video of a white Dodge Charger leaving the murder scene in the day after Ms. Batalia’s death, but would not say whether it was connected to the arrests on Friday night.
Ms. Batalia, who dreamed of being a doctor, was modelling and acting to pay for her education and had a small role in the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
Her father, Harkirat Batalia, said after his daughter’s death that she was the jewel in his life and that he found it difficult to go on.
Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, said he hoped the charges would bring the family a sense of justice “and those people who we believe to be responsible will be held accountable.”
“The loss of Maple Batalia, a beautiful young woman with a promising life in front of her, is a tragedy that cannot be measured in this community,” he said.
“For those who know her and love her, most especially her loving family and friends, the pain is evident and immeasurable.”
Police are continuing their investigation.
Mr. Dhaliwal and Mr. Bedi are expected to make their first court appearance on Monday.