A number of gangsters were among the more than 70 mourners who attended the funeral for alleged crime boss Thomas Gisby in South Surrey Friday morning, a police spokesman said.
“Several people that were well-known to us in the criminal underworld were present to pay their respects to Mr. Gisby,” Surrey RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger told Peace Arch News.
The 47-year-old Gisby – described by police as a “high-ranking organized-crime figure” – was shot and killed in a Starbucks coffee shop in the Mexican resort city of Nuevo Vallarta on April 28.
Members of the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team, along with members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) Gang Task Force, made a point of being seen outside Victory Memorial Park at 148 Street and 28 Avenue where the funeral was held.
“We often will have a robust police presence to ensure the safety of mourners and the public,” Grainger said.
Grainger said officers took photographs and recorded licence-plate numbers to update their information about suspected gang members.
An online obituary for Gisby made no direct reference to his murder, saying, “Tommy left us unexpectedly on April 28, 2012 and leaves a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.”
The memorial message describes Gisby as a “kind and generous spirit” with an “infectious smile and beautiful twinkling brown eyes” who loved to play golf and poker, go snowmobiling and ride his Harley.
A different view was provided by the officer in charge of the CFSEU, RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo, the day after Gisby died.
“We know Thomas Gisby very well as a high-ranking organized-crime figure here in British Columbia,” Malo told reporters at a Surrey news conference.
“It is an organized-crime target in British Columbia that was killed,” Malo said. “Not simply a tourist.”
Malo said Gisby has a criminal record going back to the 1990s for offences that included drug dealing and illegal gun trading.
Gisby headed up a criminal organization in B.C. which police referred to as the Gisby Crime Group, Malo said.
The group allegedly had ties to other criminal organizations, and Malo said police are concerned there could be further killings.
“Any time an individual of Gisby’s stature in the organized-crime world is killed, law enforcement is obligated to caution the public with respect to potential violent repercussions,” Malo said.
“We want to make the public aware of heightened gang tensions and the possibility that violent actions on the part of organized criminals may take place.”
Reports from Mexico said two men who were sitting in the Nuevo Vallarta coffee shop ambushed Gisby while he was waiting in line and shot him at close range.
An IHIT news release said it was “distinctly possible individuals here in Canada may have information valuable to foreign law enforcement currently investigating the murder.” Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
A few days after Gisby was gunned down, convicted criminal Ranjit Singh Cheema, 43, was shot and killed in Vancouver on May 2. The former Surrey resident had been out of jail for about three months.
The Cheema funeral service was held Saturday at the Riverside Funeral Home in South Delta and, again, there was a strong police presence with police from Delta and Vancouver taking photographs of some of the attendees and writing down licence-plate numbers.
Police do not believe the Gisby and Cheema murders are linked.
– with files from CTV