Vancouver Police investigate after man has been killed in apparent drive-by shooting near Ross St. and 61st Avenue in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday May 2, 2012.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
VANCOUVER - A well-known gangster was gunned down in front of his parents' south Vancouver home Wednesday in what police say was a targeted drive-by shooting.
Two separate family friends identified the victim as Ranjit Singh Cheema.
Cheema was released in January from prison in California, where he served five years for his part in an international drug-smuggling ring. A week later, gangster Sandip Duhre was gunned down in downtown Vancouver.
The police gang task force warned of retaliatory strikes after Duhre's shooting death, however, declined comment on the latest shooting until they have confirmed the victim's identity.
Witnesses reported hearing up to seven shots at the home around 9:40 a.m.
A longtime friend of Cheema's, who would only be identified as Jack, rushed to the scene after hearing his friend had been killed. He and Cheema met 15 years ago and used to attend the Ross Street Temple together.
"He's going to temple and he's not doing anything in that kind of life," Jack said when questioned about Cheema's past.
"Nobody knows who done these things ... it was bad, somebody wanted to take his life and that's happened."
Another friend, Herdish - who declined to give her surname - said Cheema had been trying to turn his life around since the birth of his daughter in 2004.
"When they are young they do so many mistakes, but now I think he's totally sane. He has a daughter, he has a wife, people try to change," she said.
Jimmy Sanghera, who drove by immediately following the shooting, said he saw the victim in a pool of blood outside an open vehicle door.
"I heard the gunshots from a couple of blocks away," he said. "Six, seven gunshots consecutively.
"He was slumped in the vehicle and he was trying to get out, I guess Police showed up pretty fast. I didn't see anybody driving away."
Neighbour Manjit Bhangal said through a translator Cheema's parents had lived in the home for more than 10 years.
The daylight shooting happened less than a block away from the Walter Moberly Elementary School. Rashpal Gill says she now fears for the safety of her neighbourhood.
"My kids go to this school. It's really scary, I feel really unsafe for my kids, for myself and for my neighbourhood," she said, describing the gunshots as like "firecrackers."
B.C. gang lifestyle author Ranj Dhaliwal described Cheema as an "untouchable."
"Ranj Cheema was his own kind. I don't think there are many gangsters in this world that compare to the high society type of gangster he was," he wrote in an e-mail.