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Two teenagers were shot and killed along a rural Surrey, B.C., road Monday night in an attack that left the province’s public safety minister appalled and prompted the city’s mayor to say it’s heartbreaking when young lives come to such a violent end.

Jaskarn Singh Jhutty, who went by the name Jason and was 16, and Jaskaran Singh Bhangal, who went by Jesse and was 17, died at the scene. Police did not know either victim but believe the attack was targeted.

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Just before 11 p.m. Monday night, Surrey RCMP, Surrey Fire and BC Ambulance were called to the Campbell Heights area for a reported shooting.Curtis Kreklau /The Globe and Mail/The Globe and Mail

Corporal Frank Jang, spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, told reporters the teens’ families were devastated by their deaths. “These are two young men, 16 and 17 years old, that are now victims of homicide,” he said. “I hope the community takes note of that and how serious this is.”

Cpl. Jang said the Surrey RCMP detachment received a report just after 10:30 p.m. that two bodies had been discovered. He said the males were found unresponsive along the roadside and had gunshot wounds.

Investigators are still attempting to determine a motive and Cpl. Jang asked anyone with information to contact police. One of the priorities, he said, is to determine whether the attack had any link to gang activity. “There’s a lot of blanks yet to be filled, so we’re hoping that people will come forward.”

Mike Farnworth, B.C’s Public Safety Minister, called the incident disturbing. “I was appalled by the death of these teens,” he wrote in a statement, adding he won’t “assume motive” ahead of the police investigation.

Linda Hepner, Surrey’s mayor, said police will now do the work of getting justice for two lives lost too soon. “I cannot imagine the pain of the families and my heartfelt condolences go out to them,” she wrote in a statement.

Doug Strachan, spokesperson for Surrey Schools, acknowledged the teens were students within the district. He said counselling and other support had been arranged for students and staff; the supports were being provided at more than one school.

“Certainly, it’s fair to say there is grief and shock at the news and our thoughts are with the families,” Mr. Strachan wrote in a statement.

Around the time of the attack, Cpl. Jang said, Surrey RCMP officers were alerted to two burning vehicles – one at 9:46 p.m., the other at 11 p.m. He said investigators would like to hear from anyone who has information on the fires. He said the second vehicle has been determined to be a Honda Accord.

A number of the team’s recent homicide investigations have had links to burning vehicles, Cpl. Jang said. For instance, officers responding to a fatal shooting in Langley last month received a call soon after that a nearby pick-up truck was on fire.

Cpl. Jang said he could not speak to any specific case but “we’ve seen in the recent past that a body’s been discovered and that soon after you have a burnt vehicle.” He could not definitively say if the burning vehicles reported Monday were connected to the deaths. “It’s concerning whenever there’s a homicide in the community. It’s a concern when people are trying to discard evidence by burning vehicles and other things.”

With a report from The Canadian Press

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