Community safety forum slated to address violence in west Abbotsford

The event on Thursday is being hosted by police and city council

Police were on Promontory Court last Thursday morning still investigating the shooting death of an innocent man the previous night. A community safety forum is now being held to address that incident and other violence in west Abbotsford.

Police were on Promontory Court last Thursday morning still investigating the shooting death of an innocent man the previous night. A community safety forum is now being held to address that incident and other violence in west Abbotsford.

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and police board, as well as city council, host a public forum on community safety this Thursday, Sept. 10.

The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way and is being held in response to a series of violent incidents, including the shooting death of an innocent bystander, in west Abbotsford.

“I believe an important next step in creating a solution to the very troubling and highly publicized violent incidents occurring in our community is for us to come together as a community to build those solutions,” said Mayor Henry Braun.

Police Chief Bob Rich said the APD is continuing to make the ongoing conflict and “threat to public safety” a top priority.

“We are putting in place a gang enforcement team whose sole purpose is to deal with the issues in the Townline Hill area. We will not stop until public safety is restored,” he said.

The forum is open to the entire community, and people are encouraged to arrive early, as the seating capacity of 739 will be strictly enforced.

Ping Shun Ao, 74, was killed last Wednesday when he was struck by a stray bullet as part of a targeted shooting intended for a resident of his  neighbours’ home in the 3500 block of Promontory Court.

It is the latest incident in what police have called the “Townline Hill conflict,” an ongoing dispute involving two groups of young men in the Townline and Blueridge area of Abbotsford.

The incidents began more than a year ago, starting with mischief, assault, vandalism and arson.

The conflict has escalated to include seven shootings this year, as well as one last October that resulted in the death of Harwin Baringh, 18.

Police previously held a public forum in April at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium. That event, held mainly in Punjabi, was aimed at the South Asian community and attracted more than 500 people, with many being turned away at the door.