Hells Angel Larry Amero lays injured outside of the Grand hotel after he was shot in August 2011. Daily Courier file photo.
Three gangsters linked to the late Sukh Dhak have been charged with killing Red Scorpion Jon Bacon and wounding four of his associates in a brazen daylight shooting outside a Kelowna luxury hotel in August 2011.
Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit Chief Supt. Dan Malo said the shooting shocked the community of Kelowna and led to an intensive 18-month investigation which resulted in the weekend arrests of Jason Thomas McBride, 37, Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun, 25 and Michael Kerry Jones, 25.
“It was clear to us from that day on that this reckless public act would become one of the most critical public safety projects for law enforcement in the province of B.C.,” Malo said.
McBride — a long-time associate of Dhak and his elder brother Gurmit — was arrested in Toronto where he has been living.
His lawyer Matthew Nathanson told the Vancouver Sun that “ the allegations against my client are serious.”
“However it is important to remember that they are allegations at this point and nothing more. My client is presumed to be innocent and this matter will be heard and decided in court, based on evidence rather than being tried in the media,” he said Monday.
Khun-Khun, who has twice survived attempts on his life since the Bacon hit, was picked up in Surrey Sunday.
And Jones, who is from the Sunshine Coast, was arrested in Vancouver.
Malo said six search warrants were executed across the country in the massive murder probe.
“The successful completion of this investigation was a perfect storm of cooperation, commitment and support by many law enforcement agencies and members of the public,” Malo said. “The arrests and charges of these individuals is an important accomplishment that will go far to enhance public safety in the province of British Columbia.”
All three accused appeared in Surrey Provincial Court Monday. Khun-Khun's case was put over to March 8 in Surrey, while McBride and Jones were remanded until March 21 and are scheduled to appear next in Kelowna.
• IN PRINT: We'll have local reaction to the charges in Tuesday's paper.
Malo stated that Bacon, his Hells Angel pal Larry Amero and Independent Soldiers buddy James Riach were meeting in Kelowna on Aug. 14, 2011 after forming a new alliance dubbed the Wolf Pack.
They were with Leah Hadden-Watts, the niece of the Haney Hells Angel president, and Lyndsey Black, when four people opened fire on their white Porsche Cayenne in front of the Kelowna Grand Hotel in the middle of the afternoon.
Hadden-Watts was left a paraplegic. Black, who escaped injury in a 2009 car shooting, wasn’t as lucky in the Kelowna attack, getting struck in the leg. Amero was left with permanent damage to his hand. Riach escaped serious injury.
Malo said those directly involved in the shooting were McBride, Khun-Khun, Jones and a fourth man who is now dead. He wouldn't provide the name.
Amero is now in jail in Montreal where he is facing cocaine importing charges. Riach has maintained a low profile since the shooting.
“This violent incident rocked the City of Kelowna in an act so brazen that it might have been mistaken for a bad action film. However, for the victims and members of the public who witnessed the events, it was all too real,” Malo said.
“Minutes before, it was a typical summer day in the Okanagan. Families gathered to enjoy the resort - and all that Kelowna has to offer. That peace was shattered when Mr. Bacon was fatally wounded and his four associates were badly injured by gunfire.”
Malo repeated his comments Monday that two years of gang violence stems back to the targeted hit on Gurmit Dhak slaying outside Metrotown mall.
“The flashpoint of this gang violence began with the murder of Gurmit Dhak in Burnaby in October of 2010. But the Bacon shooting, as it was commonly called became a starting point for a cascade of violence we saw repeated throughout B.C. during the last 18 months,” he said.
Malo was asked why there have been no murder charges laid in a series of slayings of Dhak associates, including Sukh Dhak himself and his bodyguard Thomas Mantel – shot to death in Burnaby last November, as well as Sandip Duhre, who was killed in downtown Vancouver in January 2012. He said it would be inappropriate to comment because the cases are being handled by other agencies.
However he said generally that police often know a lot about suspects in gang murders, even when they can’t get enough evidence to lay charges.
“Everybody is very astute, very aware of what's going on in our gang conflicts,” he said of police. “The difficulty is what's going to happen in the next hour. There is not a homicide that takes place that we don't know the individuals involved…The difficulty is to bring it from there to a point before the criminal justice system.
McBride has a long history with police. His criminal record dates back to 1998 in Victoria where he was convicted of break-and-enter. He was later convicted of robbery, for which he got a 10-year firearms prohibition. In 2005, he was caught with a 40-calibre, semi-automatic Glock handgun in the front passenger seat of his Lincoln Navigator.
After Gurmit Dhak was killed, McBride was one of several gangsters who police saw leave Dhak’s memorial service to gather at Vancouver’s Kensington Park.
Two of those who were in the park, Christopher Iser and Mike Shirazi, were later convicted for possession of firearms they had with them that day. The Crown argued at trial that they were all in the part to plot a retaliatory murder of the Dhak hit.
Like McBride, Khun-Khun was also well-known to police and close to the Dhak gang. He was critically injured in a September 2011 shooting in Surrey as he picked up Sukh Dhak from a residence.
Just last month, Khun-Khun was shot again in the same attack that saw gang-mate Manjinder Singh Hairan executed.
Khun-Khun, nick-named Giani, was also arrested in Abbotsford last September in connection with a shooting outside the home of Bacon associate Brian (Shrek) Dhaliwal, but was never charged.
Khun-Khun was also arrested in Nanaimo in August 2011 with two associates after RCMP pulled over a 2008 Acura and found 27.5 grams of crack cocaine, 7.5 grams of marijuana, 108 ecstasy pills, $1,700 in Canadian cash, scales and a radio jamming system.
And he was charged in Edmonton in 2009 in connection with an armed robbery of a jewelry store there. He was also convicted of kidnapping in Surrey Provincial Court in November 2007 after holding a stranger at gunpoint for several hours so he and an accomplice could steal his commercial truck. That same year, Khun-Khun was in the news when his 19-year-old fiance died after falling from the truck he was driving in Surrey.
Jones has one conviction for driving while prohibited, but no other prior charges.
RCMP Asst. Commissioner Wayne Rideout said the Kelowna investigation, dubbed E-Nitrogen, “was an extremely complex and challenging project that has set an important standard for how these organized crime investigations work.”
“It represents the very best of an integrated and coordinated law enforcement approach to organized crime investigations supported by dedicated organized crime funding,” he said. “Gangs, guns and organized crime will continue to be a top priority for law enforcement and CFSEU-BC is on the front line of this effort to ensure the public safety of British Columbians.”