A known gang member was tracked down and shot with his 11-year-old son outside an Edmonton fast-food restaurant Thursday, police in the city said.
Acting Supt. Colin Derksen told reporters Friday that the boy was not simply caught in the line of fire, but deliberately killed. A second boy around the same age, a friend of the dead child, was also in the car.
“Thankfully, he was not harmed — physically, anyway,” Derksen said of the boy who escaped.
Derksen said the lunch-hour shooting at the crowded restaurant and gas station is the latest example of escalating gang violence in the city.
“The landscape has changed out there,” he said. “There’s no longer any respect for children, families or innocent citizens amongst our gangsters when they carry out violence to further their own interests.”
The dead boy’s name was not released, but his father was identified as 41-year-old Harpreet Uppal.
“Mr. Uppal was very well known to us, very high up in the gang drug world,” Derksen said. “We had worked very hard over the years to try to warn and give him opportunities to step out of that lifestyle and keep him and his family safe.”
Derksen said a previous attempt had been made on Uppal’s life two years ago at a pizza restaurant.
Police are investigating possible links between Thursday’s shooting and a burned-out SUV found nearby. The vehicle was unoccupied.
Derksen said gang violence in public places has increased in Edmonton in recent years.
He said officers have responded to 196 shootings so far this year, a 46-per-cent increase over the same time last year.
While such shootings are almost always gang-related, Derksen said they are incredibly dangerous for public bystanders.
“We’re lucky we’re not reporting on additional deaths or injuries today.”
He noted that Thursday’s shooting happened near a daycare.
Derksen said no arrests have yet been made.