First victim of banquet hall shooting lucky to be alive

New details about the horrific Jan. 16, 2013 shooting at the Riverside Banquet Hall, showing how two of the victims are lucky to be alive and how the shooter was asked to come to the party, emerged in the written judgement released this week by Richmond provincial court Judge Patrick Chen.

In the judgement, Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu was found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder on seven criminal charges including attempted murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and three firearms-related charges.

According to the ruling, a crowd of more than 100 people were in attendance at the party, which was a celebration of the induction of a number of new members into the longshoremen's union.

"This was an auspicious occasion and cause for celebration as members generally have to work 10 to 12 years as casual labour before being allowed to enter the union," Judge Chen wrote.

Sandhu was asked to be the designated driver for his cousin Davinder Sandhu, a longshoremen, who was attending the party, wanted to drink, and knew his cousin didn't drink alcohol.

"The accused initially said he did not wish to go, but ultimately agreed to do his cousin the favour," Chen wrote. "Prior to driving to his cousin's house, the accused put on a bullet-proof vest and loaded his gun, a Heckler and Koch 9mm semi-automatic handgun with serial numbers obliterated," Chen wrote.

As Sandhu's first victim was walking to the bar inside the banquet hall, east of No. 6 Road, he saw Sandhu coming towards him, but thought Sandhu would pass him by.

Instead, the unexpected happened.

Sandhu drew his gun, pointed it at the victim's head and shot him from close range.

The shot proved not to be fatal, but only by bare centimetres.

"The bullet entered the left side of (the victim's) nose, shattered his right cheekbone and exited through his right ear," the ruling states.

Sandhu then stood over the victim, pointing the barrel at the right side of the victim's head from about a foot away, and appeared to try to fire three more shots.

But the gun misfired or jammed, and the victim and a witness could hear it click at least three times. At this point, a witness tried to intervene by wrestling Sandhu to the ground and holding him around the neck, while trying to take the gun away, only to flee when the accused threatened to shoot him.

The first victim was struck with a second bullet as he tried to crawl for cover, the bullet entering his left side, tearing through his stomach and intestines, and exiting through the back of his right leg.

He was also struck a third time, this bullet striking his left thigh where it still remains today, as doctors "have determined that more damage would result by trying to remove it than by leaving it there."

The witness who tried to intervene was also targeted, a bullet slicing through both of his thighs.

Another bullet struck another victim, entering his neck right under his jaw bone, and fracturing two of his vertebrae, only to come to a rest while protruding out of the back of his neck."

Another bullet struck another male victim in the left leg, but he appears to have made a full recovery, the judge noted.

Sandhu's first victim, who was most seriously injured, spent three weeks in hospital during which he was fed intravenously. He wasn't able to eat solid foods for many months. He had a plate placed over his right cheek, held in place by four screws. Pieces were cut out of his large and small intestine.

A large scar stretching from his stomach to his waist remains as a reminder of the shooting, which also saw him lose some of his vision in his right eye.

But he has since returned to work, some 13 months after the shooting, where he is currently assigned light duties. He now works as a crane operator.

The man who was shot in the neck spent three days in hospital, and wore a neck brace for three months. Three pieces of shrapnel from the shooting remain lodged in his neck, he still can't feel the left side of his throat, and he is plagued by a tingling sensation running from the left side of his head down to his left shoulder and chest. He continues to go to physio and massage therapies.

For the complete verdict, visit here.

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