An Abbotsford man who was on trial for 14 offences related to a series of pellet-gun attacks in 2015 has been acquitted of all charges.
Judge Edna Ritchie said Thursday morning in Abbotsford provincial court that she could not find Harpreet Vaid, 23, guilty of any of the offences beyond a reasonable doubt.
“It is probable that Mr. Vaid was involved in the offences but I do not think it is safe to convict Mr. Vaid on the evidence I’ve heard,” she said.
Ritchie said although the evidence presented at trial clearly showed that Vaid’s vehicle was used in the attacks, it had not been proved that he was in the car at the time.
Nine people were injured in the incidents, which occurred in Abbotsford on July 26 and 27, 2015.
The random attacks occurred across Abbotsford, with people shot while walking down the street.
“Luckily, no one was shot in the head area, which could well have resulted in blindness or hearing loss,” Ritchie said.
She said the evidence indicated that more than one person was in the vehicle during some of the incidents.
None of the victims were able to definitively identify Vaid as the shooter.
Ritchie said witness descriptions and video evidence led police to determining that a dark-coloured 2006 Chrysler Sebring was used in the attacks, and that the vehicle was owned by Vaid.
She said the car was located by police at a dealership in Surrey, where Vaid had traded it in on July 30, 2015 – after police had issued a photo of the suspect vehicle.
Ritchie said police also confirmed at the time that the car’s taillights and tire rims had been spray-painted.
A search of the vehicle turned up hundreds of BBs and pellets.
Vaid was arrested soon after, and charges were laid in September 2015: seven counts of assault with a weapon and seven counts of discharging a firearm with intent to wound.
Ritchie said the circumstantial evidence presented by Crown included testimony from a neighbour, who heard “popping sounds” on July 27, 2015 and looked outside to see Vaid holding a “gun-shaped object” in his hand.
She said some victims also indicated they had seen a pit bull in the suspect vehicle and, although Vaid did indeed own such a dog, there was no definitive proof that it was his in the car at the time of the shootings.
Ritchie described the attacks as “cowardly” and “senseless.”
“I hope that whoever was involved in these offences has matured enough to realize in hindsight how pathetic their actions were,” she said.