BY ASHLEY BURR
A former Hells Angel member points to isolation during the pandemic as a factor in rising gang conflict
Investigators believe recent killings are connected to the ongoing gang conflict in the Lower Mainland
Former gang member Joe Calendino says recruitment ages are getting younger and younger
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A former member of the Hells Angels points to the pandemic as playing a disastrous role in the ongoing gang conflict on the Lower Mainland. This comes as police in the region desperately work to stop any retaliatory violence after three targeted murders in four days.
After spending a decade as a member of the Hells Angels, Joe Calendino now works to try and prevent kids and youth from joining gang life. He says he’s beside himself as he hears of at least five gang-related murders in the last two weeks, and notes the isolation the pandemic has brought is only adding fuel to the deadly fire.
“These kids are isolated and the opportunity to run free and be able to get out there, and be connected to that group that you think has your back,” he says.
On Saturday, 28-year-old Dilraj Johal was shot in a condo near Lansdowne Road and Number 3 Road in Richmond.
He later died from his injuries.
Last Thursday night, 29-year-old Anees Mohammed was killed at Richmond’s Steveston Community Park.
The day before, a 24-year-old Gary Kang was shot at his home in Surrey.
The three homicides come after two teenagers were killed in two separate, targeted shootings over a 24-hour period in Surrey late last month. One of the victims was a 14 year old who was shot as he got out of a taxi.
Recruitment ages lowered
Calendino says since his departure from gang life, he has noticed recruitment ages have lowered substantially.
“A 14-year-old is absolutely appalling. That is not okay, not now not ever, even in my previous life that would not even enter my mindset,” he says. “I feel for the parents.”
Ex-gang leader Stan Price also now works as a youth advocate. He says the recruitment of younger gang members was what ultimately pushed him to change his life in 2017.
Now reflecting on his own children, he says parents have to be aware and involved in their kids’ lives.
“Go for a drive in the car and express interest in what these kids are doing, give them the proper guidance. It’s the small things that would count for any child,” Price says.
Anyone with information regarding the recent gang activity in the Lower Mainland is asked to contact police or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.