So far, 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021. (CANADIAN PRESS)

So far, 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021. (CANADIAN PRESS)

Police report 15 gang-linked killings in Metro Vancouver in 2021 as tensions escalate

The situation has flared up again, as tensions dating back to 2008 between the UN gang and rivals including the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the Wolf Pack escalate

Speaking at a news conference, Assistant Comm. Manny Mann, chief officer of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021.

Gang violence had subsided every year since 2017 — with a low of 23 murders in the region last year.

He says the situation has flared again, as tensions dating back to 2008 and 2009 between the United Nations gang and rivals including the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the Wolf Pack are aggravated by the emergence of new players.

“New groups have entered into the gang landscape that has resulted in more conflict,” he said.

Most recently, 46-year-old Todd Gouwenberg was shot and killed Wednesday outside a sports complex in Langley.

Investigators are not linking Gouwenberg’s murder to the shootings of 20-year-old Bailey McKinney in Coquitlam on Monday or the April 18 killing of 31-year-old Harpreet Singh Dhaliwal in Vancouver, but they say the three targeted attacks show a disturbing trend because all happened in daylight, in busy areas full of children and families.

READ MORE: One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

“Contributing factors to this include the connection to past conflicts and incidents, new and quickly changing alliances, family connections, competition over drug lines, backstabbing and debt collection,” said Mann.

No arrests have been made in any of the three shootings but Vancouver police Supt. Lisa Byrne said 60 officers were assigned to last Sunday’s homicide of Dhaliwal in the city’s Coal Harbour area.

“We will be poised to provide you with a significant update on that investigation in the coming days,” said Byrne.

RELATED: Langley man gunned down at Sportsplex was long-time gang member

READ ALSO: B.C. sees greatest drop in gang homicides across Canada in 2018: report

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B.C. gang problem