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Gun violence surge brings painful memories for widow of 2018 Surrey murder victim

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While the Lower Mainland’s recent spree of gun violence is concerning for all of us, for the family of murder victims, a period like this can be particularly saddening.

The widow of a man who was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity in 2018 is speaking out, calling for an end to the shootings, of which there have now been 11 over the course of a month.

It’s one of the most violent periods on the Lower Mainland in recent times. And as the headlines of the latest shootings come in, it’s especially troubling to Darlene Bennett.

Her husband, Paul, was shot dead nearly three years ago in front of their Cloverdale home, with police finding he wasn’t the intended target. Her family’s personal experience is an example that gang violence doesn’t just impact people within those criminal organizations.

Paul Bennett is shown in this undated police handout photo. Homicide investigators say the murder of a hockey dad and dedicated nurse in Surrey, B.C., was a case of mistaken identity. Paul Bennett was shot in his driveway on June 23 and died of his wounds in hospital. His widow, Darlene Bennett, says Paul wasn’t involved in criminal activity and she never thought he would die of such violence, especially in their quite neighbourhood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

“It is true. It can affect anyone, anywhere. I mean it’s happening at malls, airports,” she told NEWS 1130, referring to two shootings on May 8 and 9, the latter taking place outside of Vancouver International Airport’s departures terminal in broad daylight.

“Someone is going to get hurt. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and someone did in Burnaby,” she added.

Police confirmed on Monday that a shooting in Burnaby, that left a 19-year-old dead, also left an innocent bystander hurt. Investigators said that person “happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Bennett is calling for more active interventions for youth involved with the criminal lifestyle. She made headlines this week as she announced a push for a referendum on Surrey’s police transition.

“I don’t know how to solve it, I’m not in policing, but I really don’t think changing the badge and the stripe on a uniform is going to have that big of an impact,” she said earlier this week.

“I think we need to focus on trying things to help kids make good decisions, to build their resiliency, to provide them with good mentorship so they can make good choices. I think you need to go to the route cause of what’s happening, and I think that’s very important in society right now,” Bennett added.

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Many experts have said it appears more youth are getting involved with gangs, with some noting this recent spate of shootings on the Lower Mainland is being carried out by young members.

Bennett has a message for people who have or are joining the gang lifestyle: “Really think about what you’re doing.”

“There are choices that you’re going to be making that you can’t take back. Please. I don’t want to see anyone else die. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone to have this ending. I want them to lead a productive life, I want them to have happiness and joy,” Bennett said. “Just reach out, get help.”

The latest shooting to take place on the Lower Mainland came just days after the shooting at YVR. On Thursday night, shots rang out outside a restaurant patio at Burnaby’s Market Crossing Mall, killing one person and leaving two others hurt.

The gang unit was called in, and NEWS 1130 has learned the man killed had ties to the Brothers Keepers.

B.C.’s public safety minister met with police chiefs from across the region Thursday to discuss plans to address the recent gang violence.

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