The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) announced today that it has taken over the investigation into the double shooting that took place last Thursday on Hawthorne Avenue in Abbotsford.
IHIT spokesperson Stephanie Ashton said at a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Abbotsford Police Department that one of the men injured in the incident is not expected to survive his injuries. The other victim remains in critical, but stable, condition.
The two men, ages 21 and 22, were shot at about 9:20 p.m. at a residence in the 33300 block of Hawthorne Avenue. The home is part of an eight-house complex located between Greer and Highview streets off of McCallum Road and south of Highway 1.
Ashton said although the exact motive of the shooting is not yet clear, it does appear to be connected to the ongoing Townline Hill conflict, which involves two gangs in a violent battle for drug turf in west Abbotsford.
Neither victim has been identified, and Ashton said names will only be released if it is in the public’s interest or a matter of public safety.
Ashton said the family of the man who is not expected to survive did not want to speak publicly, but they released a statement, which she read at the press conference.
“The family are urging those individuals wrapped up in this conflict to stop as they do not want to see any more violence and death as a result of it,” she said.
Ashton said IHIT is also seeking the public’s help in trying to locate a driver who may have information about a vehicle related to the shooting.
Investigators are aware of a dark-coloured sedan that was seen driving erratically on Hawthorne Avenue at about 9:20 p.m. on the night of the shooting. Ashton said the sedan cut off another driver, who then honked their horn.
She said the driver who honked has yet to be identified, and IHIT is asking that person to come forward.
No further details about the double shooting have been released, including how many other people were in the home at the time of the shooting, how many rounds were fired, and where the two men were on the property at the time of the incident.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Casey Vinet said the two victims, who are not related to one another, are known to police, and investigators are delving further into their background.
He said local police continue to make the Townline Hill conflict a top priority, with increased enforcement in the area for the “foreseeable future.”
He said police have executed several search warrants, which have led to the seizure of drugs and the arrests of several individuals.
Vinet said since the shooting, additional officers have been deployed to patrol the area and target individuals associated to the conflict.
“What we want the public to understand is we’re doing everything we can to hold responsible whoever is involved in this violence … Our priority is to stop further violence from occurring,” he said.
The battle has resulted in several drive-by shootings and two previous murders – Harwin Baringh, 18, in October 2014 and Ping Shun Ao, 72, who was struck last September by a stray bullet intended for his neighbour.
Anyone with information about the latest shooting is asked to contact the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or email email@example.com.
They can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously online at solvecrime.ca or by phone at 1-800-222-8477.