KAMLOOPS - The man who was shot and killed outside of his south Kamloops home last night was a co-founder of the notorious Red Scorpions gang, a long history of violence, weapons, criminal involvement and time in prison.
Konaam Shirzad, 34, came to Kamloops about seven years ago and the presence of the organized crime group came with him. He was on parole when he came to the city in 2010, according to Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay.
Since then, police in Kamloops have been targeting the organized crime group, conducting several investigations into the group.
Shirzad was killed near his home on Hudson’s Bay Trail around 7:20 p.m. last night, Sept. 21. His 28-year-old associate, who has not been identified, was injured from a gunshot and taken to Royal Inland Hospital. Police are still trying to figure out who is responsible for the attack.
Pillay, who’s in charge of the Serious Crime Unit, says this is believed to be a targeted shooting and although the public should not feel threatened, they should be vigilant.
“Whenever organized crime is present, violence is also present, and there’s always that chance of an innocent casualty,” Pillay says. “Although rare, it still can happen… however we don’t want people to think that there (are) killers running around the streets looking for anybody. This was specifically after Konaam Shirzad.”
Shirzad had an extensive record in the Lower Mainland and had been charged with offences like assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and firearms and weapons offences.
A 2014 article from CTV news detailed the testimony of former Red Scorpions leader Michael Le during the Surrey Six trial, where he discussed meeting Shirzad during a stint in jail. The pair decided to create a gang called the Red Scorpions. Le became the sole leader while Shirzad spent most of his time in prison.
Pillay says Kamloops RCMP have been focusing much of their efforts on the Red Scorpions’ presence in the city every since Shirzad arrived.
“They’ve been a fixture in the drug trade since Konaam came to town,” he says. “They have been active in the community since 2010, and to varying degrees. At this time, they do play a very predominant role in the drug trade in this community and they have also been the targets of numerous successful investigations out of this office on an ongoing basis.”
iNFOnews.ca has covered the results of investigations connected to the Red Scorpions, including when Heavy Metal Gym, which Shirzad owned, was raided by police earlier this year.
“That investigation didn’t concentrate on the gym per say, but it did concentrate on the Red Scorpion group,” Pillay says. “These investigations take a very long time… that was just one step in that long investigation, and that was also very early on in that investigation.”
But Shirzad told local newspaper Kamloops This Week after the raid that he had left his gang life behind him.
Just last month, Kamloops RCMP seized drugs, cash and stolen property from a hotel room and vehicle believed to be connected to Red Scorpions associates. Pillay says that particular group of people, who have not been charged in connection to the seizure, “loosely” consider themselves associates of the gang. Although the police have been focused on targeting these groups, it hasn’t been easy and they know there will always be work to do.
“The investigations into this group have been very successful, but when it comes to organized crime, it’s present in almost every community and definitely every city,” Pillay says. “It’s an ongoing battle that police are always engaged in, because even if one group is controlled, or one group of associates is controlled, there’s always somebody else that picks up the mantle and continues on.”
About 10 minutes after last night’s shooting, there was a car fire reported on Odin Court and Whiteshield Crescent. Police are still investigating if the two incidents are connected.
“We haven’t really confirmed or ruled out either scenario, but it’s very common obviously for criminals who are engaged in serious crime to burn vehicles, and that vehicle is in fact stolen,” he says. “Because of the time and the proximity, we’re alive to the fact that it could very well be part of this investigation.”
Usually when there’s a homicide in the city, or most communities in B.C., it’s common practice for RCMP to hold off on identifying the victim for some time. It can take days or weeks before the public learns the deceased’s identity, but this time police identified Shirzad exactly 12 hours after they sent out the initial news release about the shooting. Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller says identifying him quickly could help in their investigation.
“I think… as a group and an investigative strategy with the players involved, that we decided that at this point in time, it would be in the best interest in order to advance the investigation, to release that information,” Mueller says.
As for who could be responsible for this, Pillay says it’s far too early in the investigation to speculate without any concrete evidence. Pillay says this is a fluid case, developing hourly, and they need any help from the public that they can get.
At this point, there’s no real description of the two suspects other than they’re both men. Pillay says police have been canvassing Shirzad’s neighbourhood and the neighbourhood where the car was found on fire.
“This crime itself is very unusual and quite an escalation in Kamloops standards, so what I would say is anybody who did see anything suspicious, whether it be vehicles or people on the evening of Sept. 21, should call because no tip at this point is going to be too small and everything is going to be followed up,” Pillay says.
He recommends residents to be vigilant, but not overly alarmed, and encourages people to call in any kind of suspicious behaviour they see, including if they saw something last night. Mueller says no tip will be overseen in this case.
“You may not have thought something was significant, but now, after the fact and looking back, it may be significant and it could be a significant tip for us to move forward,” Mueller says.
If you have any information that could help the investigation, call Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1 800-222-8477.
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