British Columbia: Wild West of Lawlessness
The Wild, Wild, West certainly hasn't died in British Columbia, with what seems a shooting a day, certainly not a shining example for a Province soon to host the 2010 Olympics, complete with Government Lawmakers who seem like comic sidekicks than effective Sheriffs.
Not a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in sight in a Province which boasts in the Media as "The Best Place in the "World to live", at least for any criminal that is.
A high-speed car chase in a quiet east Langley neighbourhood Tuesday ended with a black Hummer in a ditch and a spray of gunfire in a gang-style shooting just a few hundred metres from two schools.
Police said the man driving the Hummer - Leonard Pelletier, an alleged Hells Angels associate, was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.
They said he was about to drop off his 14-year-old son at a high school when he noticed he was being followed by two or three men in another vehicle.
He fled the scene, hitting another vehicle before losing control of his Hummer and crashing into a ditch just east of Peterson Road elementary at 23422 47th Ave.
The pursuers then pulled up beside the Hummer and fired several rounds into the front and side of the vehicle.
Pelletier, 41, is expected to survive his wounds. His son escaped unharmed.
The suspects fled the scene.
At the time of Tuesday's shooting, there were numerous students and parents walking to D.W. Poppy high school and Peterson Road elementary school, which are just blocks apart.
Both schools went into "lockdown" mode for about 45 minutes without further incident.
"This was a targeted incident involving [an individual] with gang affiliation within Langley and the Lower Mainland," Langley RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen said.
"The individuals responsible for this incident clearly had no regard for community safety and put the lives of many innocent people at risk."
It was the second gang-related shooting in a public place in Metro Vancouver in the past four days.
Two people were shot at an upscale Kitsilano restaurant, Quattro on Fourth, late Saturday by a pair of masked men who fired shots through the plate glass windows.
The target of that shooting was Gurmit Singh Dhak, a well-known figure in gang circles, who was celebrating a birthday at the eatery with 25 others. Dhak and a 21-year-old female member of the party were wounded.
The two shootings come a month after a hit at the Fortune Happiness Restaurant at 654 East Broadway. Two men died and six others were injured when two masked men burst into the all-night Chinese restaurant and started shooting at about 4:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Police called it the worst mass shooting in Vancouver history.
Pelletier is a cousin and close associate of Bob Green, a member of the elite Nomads, a sub-group of the Hells Angels.
Green was once the manager of the controversial North Burnaby Inn, which was thrown into the political spotlight in 1999 when the RCMP raided it and shut down the Lumberman's Social Club poker room for illegal gambling.
Rick Mandi, a Hells Angels prospect who was sentenced to 61/2 years in prison after a kidnapping and violent assault in 2001, is also one of Pelletier's friends on his Facebook website.
Mandi told the National Parole Board earlier this year that he would live on Vancouver Island with his mother and have nothing to do with bikers if he was released.
B.C. Provincial Court records show Pelletier has been hauled in by police on several charges between 1997 and 2006, including possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property under $5,000, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, breach of an undertaking and possession of a narcotic.
According to public records, Pelletier lists his home as 3153 248th Ave., Aldergrove, which is described as eight acres of farmland and a house with a total assessed value of $666,000.
The property is registered to Cynthia Ann Pelletier, who describes herself in land title documents as a businesswoman.
Besides his Hummer, leasing documents show Pelletier also has a 2004 Dodge Durango and a 2005 Harley Davidson FXST Softail motorcycle.
"He's very well known to police and an associate of a number of full-patch Hells Angels," said Vancouver RCMP Insp. Gary Shinkaruk, head of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Unit.
In biker gang hierarchy, an associate is someone who has been useful to the gang and may attend parties and events, but can't wear gang colours.
"He's been tight with Bob Green for a long time. Pelletier is a relative of Bob Green," Shinkaruk said. "I would anticipate there would be some retaliation somewhere along the line. I would expect he will be visited by a lot of bikers who are his friends."
Cynthia Pelletier said Tuesday the family is only associated with Green because they're related, and they only see him about twice a year.
She said although they're not "posterboard people," her family has been unfairly portrayed.
"We're not really the Sopranos or anything," she said. "We are being portrayed really badly. We're not gangsters.
"We're horrified by this situation."
Pelletier claims her husband was shot in a retaliation attack after he tried to protect some youths who were beaten up three months ago.
She said Pelletier had confronted the man who beat the youths. Two weeks ago, she said, the man "threatened to kill my husband."
Her family has been moved to an undisclosed location for their safety, she added.
"Everybody loves Lenny," she said. "He does nothing but help everyone. I'm sure this whole situation is because he wanted to help someone."
Meanwhile, parents of students at the two schools are shocked by what happened in their neighbourhood, a leafy large-lot residential area dotted with small farms.
Laura Bears, who dropped off her son at the high school about the same time as the victim arrived, was dangerously close to the high-speed chase.
"One of the vehicles sped up behind me, almost clipped me, and sped off," she said of the Hummer.
"It's quite an agricultural area," she noted. "That's why we moved here."
Joanne Bonetti was getting ready to leave the house with her four- and six-year-old daughters when the Hummer crashed near their yard.
"They came running in to tell me that a car had hit the fence," she said.
By the time she got outside, the shooters had gone, leaving the Hummer in the ditch, engine still running and two bullet holes in the windshield.
"I'm just relieved it happened at eight o'clock, and not at 8:45 when all the children were walking to school," Bonetti said.
Neither of her girls was harmed. One of them was interviewed by police.
Joanne's husband, Dino Bonetti, was already at work at his family meat shop at the time, and he said he was just glad his children weren't hurt.
"You expect anything nowadays," he said.
Langley RCMP continued to investigate and asked anyone with information to call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
With files from Rick Ouston, Vancouver Sun, and Matthew Claxton, Langley Advance.