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South Surrey gangland victim ‘sought new lifestyle’

Craig Widdifield - Contributed photo
Craig Widdifield
— image credit: Contributed photo

A man shot to death last week in South Surrey was not the gangster he has been characterized as, his father says.

“He made some mistakes in his life – mistakes in judgment – and paid for them,” Jim Widdifield said of his son, Craig.

“I’m not saying he was an angel, but he was not how he’s been portrayed at all,” he said.

Craig Widdifield, 28, was gunned down in the Morgan Crossing parking lot, in the 15700-block of Croydon Drive, just before 7 p.m. last Wednesday. It’s believed the shooter fled in a Jeep Cherokee and got into a silver or grey Volkswagen Passat near 28 Avenue and 165 Street.

Dozens of officers raced to the shopping centre and quickly cordoned off a large section of the parking lot. A tarp could be seen covering a body lying adjacent to a silver Mercedes SUV that was parked near a toy store and a Starbucks, by a walkway leading to the Steve Nash Sports Club and overhead condominiums; the Mercedes’ driver-side door was open.

Two hours later, Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy told media the victim was known to police “for this lifestyle.”

Thursday, a spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team described the hit as a “merciless… targeted, gang-associated killing.”

Victim's wife and sonThe victim’s father told PAN Monday that he learned what had happened from his daughter-in-law, who had rushed to the scene with the couple’s young son, and was seen crying and running towards police, saying “tell me that’s not my husband.”

“She told us the police were going to notify us, but she said she told them ‘I don’t want you going there,’” Jim Widdifield said, his voice cracking with emotion. “She said ‘I want to tell my mother- and father-in-law myself.’”

Jim Widdifield last saw his son – a Semiahmoo Secondary alumnus who had played on the same Kennedy Surrey baseball team as major-leaguer Adam Loewen – two days before the shooting, when the young family came for dinner.

He described him as a loving son, husband and father.

“People who knew him can tell you what a loving, caring individual he was, and what a forgiving person he was. He was the last person in the world who would hurt somebody.”

He was also turning his life around and excited about a new business venture that would take him and his family away from his previous lifestyle, he said.

“(Craig) was so happy – I hadn’t seen him so happy for a long time. He talked about buying some land, building a home, maybe getting his son into a private school. The only shining light about the whole thing is that we can see him living through his son.”

Widdifield said he had frequently talked with his son about breaking with his past associations, and said he knew Craig’s wife and child were strong motivators for making a change.

“I don’t know any of his (past) dealings, nor do I want to. I knew by his lifestyle that something was going on and that nothing good could come of it.”

Widdifield said he plans to make an appeal for an end to the violence at his son’s funeral Friday, which he believes some former associates will attend.

“I’m going to be making a plea,” he said.

“All this violence has got to stop, in Craig’s name. Instead of taking vengeance, I’m asking that if anybody knows something about what happened, they take it to the police. Somebody’s got to stop this violence.”

- with files from Tracy Holmes

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