Gunman kills 2 in attacks targeting Canadian homeless people

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A gunman targeting homeless people fatally shot two men in a Vancouver, British Columbia, suburb and wounded two others before being shot and killed by police, authorities said Monday.

Evidence of the rampage was scattered around the bedroom community of Langley, including an overturned bicycle spilling person possessions onto a street and a shopping cart with someone’s belongings.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said an emergency response team confronted the suspect not far from where a man was found with a gunshot to his leg. During an interaction with police, the suspect was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Police Chief Superintendent Ghalib Bhayani said authorities don’t know the motive behind the shootings or if there was a relationship between the shooter and the victims.

Such attacks are rare in Canada, which has strict gun laws.

Besides the man with the leg wound, a woman was also wounded and was in critical condition, police said.

The shootings roiled Langley, a town of around 29,000 located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Vancouver. The town features a variety of shops and restaurants and boasts almost 350 acres (142 hectares) of parks. Many residents moved to Langley for its less expensive housing and commute to Vancouver, the largest city in the province of British Columbia.

Early in the morning, police issued a cellphone alert saying they were at the scene of several shootings “involving transient victims.” While most of the shootings were in downtown Langley, one reported shooting was in neighboring Langley Township.

After the shooting began, ambulances and police vehicles converged at a mall. The area was cordoned off with yellow police tape and a major intersection was closed. A black tent was set up over one of the crime scenes. A homicide team confirmed on social media that its investigators deployed to Langley to help.

An unmarked police SUV at one of the shooting scenes, near a bus depot, had at least seven bullet holes in the windshield and one through the driver’s window.

Mass shootings are less common in Canada than in the United States. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history happened in 2020 when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people.

The country overhauled its gun-control laws after an attacker killed 14 women and himself in 1989 at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college.

It is now illegal to possess an unregistered handgun or any kind of rapid-fire weapon in Canada. To purchase a weapon, the country also requires training, a personal risk assessment, two references, spousal notification and criminal record checks.