Friends and family of Abbotsford’s Jason Dhaliwal say they are at a loss to determine who would want to kill the hard-working 24-year-old.
A family member said Dhaliwal was not involved in gangs or drugs.
“He never made one dollar from the drug trade,” said the individual, who wants to remain anonymous.
He said Dhaliwal was involved in some scuffles in high school, and perhaps there were some grudges that continued over the years, but “at no point did he feel that his life was at risk.”
The family member said Dhaliwal worked full-time as a courier driver for an Abbotsford company and was working towards getting his real estate licence. He had sold a house and an apartment with his uncle, and they had three homes under construction.
Dhaliwal also organized fundraisers to help the homeless and to buy toys for sick kids in the hospital, the family member said.
“His heart was big. He was very open with everyone. He was good,” he said.
Dhaliwal was gunned down Jan. 19 in what police have said was a targeted hit while he was in a van in the 3500 block of Promontory Court in west Abbotsford.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) quickly took over the investigation. The following day, they said a black four-door Acura TL was believed to have been involved in the shooting, and a car matching that description had been found torched in Langley.
Dhaliwal’s friends and family have started a petition – titled “We Want Justice for Jason”– which calls for a review of the case and the replacement of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) with the RCMP.
The petition, which is critical of both the APD and IHIT, has been posted online at change.org and, as of noon Monday, had almost 1,000 signatures, as well as another 250 in person.
The family member said loved ones are concerned about several issues, including the negative perception that people might have of Dhaliwal because police have said his killing was targeted and because media released information about criminal charges he had in 2012 that were later dropped.
He said they also believe that police took too long to respond to the murder, took too much time to review home-security camera footage and “lost valuable time before they could identify the vehicle(s) of the murder suspects.”
The individual also says that street cameras in the area were not operational on the day of the killing, and police have provided “cloudy and mixed answers” to the family about why.
He said the cameras had been removed about two weeks prior, but they had been successful in deterring crime in the area.
The petition also states that the police claimed mechanical issues prevented them from using a helicopter to track the vehicle of the suspects.
The document calls for local and provincial governments to review the case, and for the municipal APD to be replaced by the federally regulated RCMP that is “properly funded, resourced and transparent.”
“We want Jason to be the last innocent person that dies because of policing that fails to promote public safety and transparency,” the petition concludes.
Sgt. Judy Bird said the APD understands that this is a difficult time for the Dhaliwal family and that they are looking for more information. She said the department continues to work in conjunction with IHIT to thoroughly investigate the case.
In addressing the concerns listed in the petition, she said APD patrol officers were on the murder scene four minutes after being dispatched at 6:32 p.m.
Bird said the Air One urban patrol helicopter began monitoring the incident within a minute of APD’s arrival and was airborne for 55 minutes, searching for the suspect vehicle.
She said the vehicle description was sent to police vehicles at 6:31 p.m., and neighbouring police jurisdictions were also notified within minutes.
Bird said the APD forensic identification unit copied the video footage from the Dhaliwal residence on the night of Jan. 19.
Two cameras on the west side of Abbotsford were found in mid-December to be non-operational and were removed for repair and maintenance, she said.
“Our agency continues to use, rotate and monitor cameras in the community to assist in investigations and enhance public safety.”
Bird said Police Chief Bob Rich welcomes a meeting with the Dhaliwal family if they wish to discuss any further concerns.
“The APD remains committed to reducing violent crime in Abbotsford,” she added.