A man was gunned down in the street Wednesday, a block away from an elementary school in south Vancouver.
Vancouver police said that a man had been shot at the 1100 block of East 61st Avenue, near Ross Street. Witnesses at the scene reported hearing shots between 9 and 10:00 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. investigators were working around a body under a tarp in front of 1175 East 61st Ave.
Speaking at a press conference outside Oakridge Mall, VPD spokesperson Constable Lindsey Houghton said that the murder had the hallmarks of a targeted hit, although police have yet to identify the victim.
Const. Houghton would not speculate if the shooting was linked to the slaying last week of B.C. criminal Thomas Gisby in Mexico, or if it was gang-related.
Sources at the scene identified the victim as Ranjit Singh Cheema, a high-profile gang member who had recently returned to Vancouver after serving jail time in the United States.
The phonebook listing for the property names an S. K. Cheema at that address. Those at the scene who said they knew Ranjit Cheema, said he has been living at that address with his parents, wife and young daughter.
As members of the victim’s family arrived, police directed them around to the alley behind the house.
A young woman who would identify herself only as “Rashpal”, said that she was out for her daily morning walk when she heard what sounded like “fireworks” go off.
Andy Kwong said he was in his home when he heard about four shots around 9:15 a.m. He looked outside and saw a man lying face down on the pavement on East 61st Avenue.
Mr. Kwong said the victim was wearing a blue Canucks jacket, and remained motionless as blood slowly pooled around his head. Mr. Kwong said the man was lying there for about 10 minutes before police arrived.
Mr. Kwong lives down the block from the crime scene. He said it is normally a quiet neighbourhood, and he has lived there for 10 years.
In 1998, The Globe And Mail reported that Mr. Cheema had been arrested as the alleged ringleader of an international drug distribution operation.