It was a warm sunny evening – the kind of perfect spring night when people like to be outdoors.
Last Thursday, in the vicinity of MEI (Mennonite Educational Institute), kids’ soccer teams were playing, the tennis courts were occupied, people were walking their dogs and a school production of Mary Poppins was going on at the middle school.
At about 7:30 p.m., this tranquil setting was disrupted by the sound of gunshots near MEI in the area of Clearbrook and Downes roads.
One of the witnesses, who was playing tennis at the time, at first thought some kids were filming a movie.
He looked up to see two vehicles – a dark-coloured sedan and a white pickup truck – stopped on Clearbrook Road in front of the gates leading into the MEI tennis court.
The man saw a masked passenger step out of the truck and fire several rounds from a handgun towards the back of the sedan.
The witness, who did not want his name published, said the sedan then sped off and was followed by the truck after the shooter jumped back in.
Abbotsford Police patrol division officers who went to the scene were unable to track down the suspect vehicles and did not find anyone injured.
MEI middle school was about halfway through its production of Mary Poppins, and staff were encouraged to keep people inside while police searched the area.
Const. Ian MacDonald said officers found several bullet casings on the road.
He said the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has “major concerns” that an innocent bystander could have been hit by one of the rounds.
Police do not know whether the shooting is related to the ongoing “Townline Hill conflict” between two groups of young men in west Abbotsford.
That conflict was the subject of a crime forum for the South Asian community that attracted more than 500 people last Wednesday at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
The dispute has involved shootings, mischief, assault and arson.
In March, police released a warning about three people they said are involved in an ongoing conflict and a “criminal lifestyle that includes violence, drugs and weapons.”
Last October, 18-year-old Harwin Baringh was fatally shot while in his vehicle on Sparrow Drive, but police have not confirmed whether this is related to the same conflict.
Anyone with information about Thursday’s shooting is asked to call the APD at 604-859-5225, text abbypd (222973) or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.