Lee Marstein was still in disbelief Sunday, walking by the scene of Thursday’s deadly Nanaimo shooting that took place just across the street from her home.
The daylight shooting killed a man in his 20s as he sat in his silver BMW X5 at the Rock City Plaza — near a Wendy’s Restaurant. Three suspects, who were arrested at a nearby hotel, have been released pending further investigation, according to the Nanaimo RCMP.
“[I heard] pop, pop, pop, pop, pop then pop,” recalled Lee Marstein, a Nanaimo resident.
The former security guard said seconds later, she watched the suspected getaway vehicle, flee the scene.
“This white vehicle comes screaming out of here and I mean screaming. Just a blur. I know it was white, with a white man driving it with a baseball cap,” said Marstein.
“My first reaction when I heard who had been killed is oh man the Lower Mainland gang conflict has now spilled onto Vancouver Island,” said veteran Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan, who has covered gangs on the Lower Mainland for decades.
According to her sources, the victim was Yasin Khan, a young man with strong gang ties who had multiple convictions in his mid-20s, before his execution-style killing in Nanaimo.
“He was aligned at the time of his death with the Kang Red Scorpion group. He was very close to Gary Kang who was shot to death in January in South Surrey inside his parent’s home. Prior to that he also had ties to some people who went on to form the Brothers Keepers gang,” said Bolan.
Nanaimo’s Mayor Leonard Krog called it a deeply troubling development.
“They are fighting for turf. It is a business with nasty, ugly, horrible people who are willing to kill to secure their share of the trade,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.
Nanaimo RCMP have confirmed that they believe the shooting is related to ongoing gang violence taking place on the Lower Mainland.
“We believe this event has a nexus to the ongoing gang conflict and violence currently plaguing a number of Lower Mainland communities,” Acting Insp. Donovan Tait of the Nanaimo RCMP, said in a press release issued Saturday.
RCMP have begun a massive canvas for surveillance video and dashcam images captured around the Rock City Plaza on Thursday and are hoping to speak to witnesses who may have been walking or driving through the plaza at the time of the shooting.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file #2021-18372.
MORE: Deadly midday shooting in Nanaimo linked to Lower Mainland gang activity, RCMP believe