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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

United Nations gangster killed in a hail of bullets in Vancouver

 

29-year-old man linked to the United Nations gang was gunned down in a brazen morning shooting in a busy Vancouver residential neighbourhood Sunday. The Vancouver Sun has learned the shooting victim is Axel Curtis, who has several convictions for drug trafficking, fraud and possession of a firearm. Curtis is considered a low-level member of the UN gang. He was shot dead at about 9:30 a.m. while walking his French bulldog at the corner of Ash Street and Seventh Avenue, near his eight-storey apartment building. The shooting took place as people were walking and cycling nearby, and was witnessed by residents in the building where Curtis lived. Vancouver police spokeswoman Const. Jana McGuinness said Curtis was shot multiple times. “We are comfortable in saying this was a targeted shooting,” McGuinness said at a news conference at the cordoned-off scene Sunday afternoon. The shooting is the 13th homicide of the year in Vancouver. Police were interviewing multiple witnesses and expect to release a description of the shooter as soon as they have enough information. The interview process could take some time, said McGuinness, as some witnesses were being offered support because of the traumatic effect of the shooting. At least one witness was in tears Sunday morning at the scene. “As you can appreciate, people who saw this happening — which typically you would only see happening in the movies — it would be just so shocking and quite distressing,” said McGuinness. Neighbours described hearing six to 10 gun shots in rapid succession. Some people came to the assistance of the gunned-down man, performing CPR, but he was dead at the scene, said McGuinness. Shocked neighbours described the incident as concerning because of the possibility that bystanders could be caught in the gunfire. Police said there were bullet holes in the business Optical Factory at the northeast corner of Ash and Seventh where the shooting took place. Police also cordoned off a coffee shop on the south side of Seventh, just across from the shooting. Most neighbourhood residents declined to give their names in interviews as they were frightened by the nature of the incident — rapid gunfire in broad daylight in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood. Some already suspected it was a gang shooting. “It’s too close to home,” said Suzanne, a nearby resident who would not give her last name. Katy Erwin, who has lived in the area for five years, didn’t see the shooting but saw the police cars converge on the scene. She said the area is normally quiet. However, she added there have been some incidents in the past, including three years ago when 10 or so police vehicles converged on a nearby area. McGuinness said the neighbourhood’s shock is understandable, but noted people with gang ties live in all communities in the region — in high-priced homes and in apartments. Police were combing the crime scene for forensic evidence, and were going to follow up with businesses in the area to see if they had surveillance footage. The shooter was described by neighbourhood witnesses as wearing a dark hoodie. The dead man, Curtis, had a criminal record. He was sentenced to two years in jail in August 2007 after being arrested in Vancouver for trafficking and possession of a firearm. He was also given a 10-year firearms prohibition. He was convicted of a West Vancouver fraud in 2006 and got 18 months probation. And he faced trafficking charges in Surrey after being arrested in December 2004. He was also charged with trafficking in Abbotsford in June 2009, but the case was later dismissed. At the time of his death Sunday, he had one outstanding charge of driving while prohibited in Port Moody in the summer of 2010. He was due to go to trial for that in March, 2012. Curtis used several aliases, including Anthony Bartoli, Colin Richardson, Albert Curry, Gabriel Pellegrino and Michael Ross.

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