COLUMN: Death puts spotlight on increased gun violence

The tragic death of 22-year-old Arun Bains has moved discussion of Surrey's violence problem to a new level.

The tragic death of 22-year-old Arun Bains has moved discussion of the lengthy, ongoing shooting spree in Surrey and North Delta to a new level.

He was shot early Sunday morning while driving near 126 Street and 88 Avenue, and died from his injuries in hospital.

His death has drawn a great deal of attention across the country, as it comes after a series of shootings in Surrey and Delta that police have been increasingly concerned about. They say that many of them are related to turf wars between low-level drug dealers.

This is the first fatality which has been linked to this latest turf war, but there may well be others, police fear.

Arun Bains is the nephew of well-respected Surrey-Newton NDP MLA Harry Bains, who has spoken many times about the need to deal with gang activity in Surrey and elsewhere.

The Bains family said Tuesday that Arun was not linked to drug dealing and criminal activity.

“Arun was not a criminal. He was not a gang member. He was loved by everyone who knew him,” the family says. “Arun was a fine young man who loved his family and had a bright future ahead of him.”

He had no criminal record, with his only appearance in court last year in Victoria, and that was in connection with failure to properly wear a seatbelt.

As police and city officials have said many times in recent weeks, these random shootings are bound to take the lives of innocent people. That is why the shootings, and the level of indifference shown to the rest of community by the shooters, is so troubling.

Guns are widely available and in widespread use by people involved in criminal activity, and those involved in “dial-a-dope” operations that are apparently at the root of these turf wars are routinely carrying guns.

Thus, when there is random shooting, there is no guarantee that those who have absolutely no connection to these activities won’t be injured or killed. That is the fear that many people in Surrey, particularly in the northwest part of the city, have. They legitimately fear for their personal safety, whether walking or driving.

Hopefully this tragedy will galvanize many citizens, and in particular the families and friends of those directly involved in the shootings, into action. The latest fatality offers definitive proof that loved ones are killed as a result of these senseless and downright stupid drug turf wars.

People who know anything about this shooting, or any of the other shootings,  need to get in touch with police and help them bring this needless war to a quick end. Police need evidence in order to make arrests. Thus far, few people are talking.

A human life is far more valuable than any amount of money. Most people believe this, and it should be enough of a motivation to talk to police.

Arun Bains’ family says it will do whatever it can to help end the violence playing out on Surrey streets.

“We are determined to support our community’s efforts to end this violence and spare another family this pain,” the family says.

“We strongly urge anyone with information about this incident or any criminal activity to contact the police immediately.”

Anyone with information can call the new 24-hour tip line at 604-915-6566.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.