After three people were killed in gang-related shootings over a four-day period, Lower Mainland homicide investigators said the cluster of deaths is troubling and irregular, but not a new challenge for their team.
Sgt. Frank Jang with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spoke to CTV Morning Live on Monday and said that while the recent deaths are "definitely concerning," there has actually been an overall downward trend in homicides over the past four years.
What's more unusual – though not unheard of – is how many fatal shootings have happened in a short period of time.
"That is irregular, I have to admit," Jang said. "But we've seen incidents like this before, it's nothing new to IHIT."
Jang explained that Lower Mainland gang conflicts tend to come and go and this time, it's young people taking the place of older members.
"They're reckless young people that have been deceived into this life of greed, easy, quick money and they're putting all of us in harm's way and it needs to stop," Jang said, adding that investigators don't like to name the groups because they want avoid giving them notoriety.
Between Dec. 6 and Dec. 9, three people were killed in shootings. The first was in Surrey, while the second two happened in Richmond.
The week before that, two teens were killed in gang-related shootings. One of them, Tequel Willis, was just 14 and investigators believe his death was targeted.
"That is an incredible statement, I realize, that a 14-year-old boy could be targeted for murder but that is indeed what we believe," Jang said.
Jang said officials are trying to understand how youth can be kept out of a dangerous lifestyle that he said "inevitably leads to two places: jail or the grave."
"That's the question on all our minds. We're trying to solve it," he said.
"But really the decision is up to our young people. Find a more positive path. Get yourself away from that lifestyle. Say no to it. There's still more to do in life than sell drugs, carry a gun and look behind your back every single moment."
What's also a major concern is that the Jan. 7 shooting happened in a park.
"We do know that there were some people out … should a bullet catch them, that's what we don't want to see," Jang said. "Really the responsibility is on the people with the gun. Drop the gun, say no, walk away."
Sgt. Frank Jang's comments were part of a five-minute interview on CTV Morning Live. Watch the full interview in the video player above.