Sikh man, son shot dead in gang violence in Canada's Edmonton

Derksen said police do not know whether the shooter or shooters knew children were in the car when they began following Uppal.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | AP)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | AP)

OTTAWA: An Indian-origin Sikh man, described as a "higher-level figure" in the organised crime scene in Canada, and his 11-year-old son were shot and killed in what police have called a 'sick and twisted' escalation of gang violence in the city of Edmonton.

Harpreet Singh Uppal, 41, and his son were gunned down outside a gas station Thursday afternoon in a brazen, daytime shooting, Edmonton Police Service acting Supt. Colin Derksen told the media on Friday.

The boy's young friend, who was in Uppal's car at the time, survived with no physical injuries.

Derksen said police do not know whether the shooter or shooters knew children were in the car when they began following Uppal.

"But what we do know, sadly, is that once the shooter or the shooters learned that the son was there, they intentionally shot and killed him," the Edmonton Journal quoted Derksen as saying.

He added killing children was once a 'line in the sand' gang members refused to cross, but that is changing.

"That is sick and twisted," Derksen said.

"I think most gang members would agree."

Police have not released the name of the boy, pending autopsy.

Derksen said a suspect vehicle -- a stolen 2012 BMW X6 -- was located on fire north of Beaumont. No one was located inside the vehicle and no injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

As of Friday morning, police had made no arrests and identified no suspects.

Derksen said Uppal was a "higher-level figure" in Edmonton's organised crime scene but declined to say if he was affiliated with any specific groups, the report said.

Uppal was facing charges related to cocaine possession and trafficking, as well as illegal possession of body armour. A trial was set to start in April 2024, CBC News reported.

He was also charged with assault with a weapon and unauthorised possession of a firearm in relation to a case from March 2021. The Crown stayed those proceedings in February, it said.

Derksen also declined to say whether police believe the shooting was retaliation for other violence, or whether retaliation for Uppal's killing is expected.

Sources have told Postmedia that Uppal was a prominent Brothers Keepers associate. His murder is believed to be part of a war between the UN gang and the BK. While originating in the Vancouver area, the tit-for-tat slayings are now happening across the country.

The day before Uppal was killed, B.C. UN gangster Parmvir Chahil was shot to death in Toronto. Media reports said the killings may be linked.

Derksen said it was too early to say 'if there's a connection' to violence in other cities, 'or if there is, how far-reaching it is.'

Police said the details of the shooting were immediately posted to social media and detectives are hoping to speak with anyone with information. Anyone with security or dash camera footage that was active in the area at the time is also encouraged to contact police.

Derksen confirmed Uppal and his family were the targets of a 2021 shooting in which a gunman fired through the window of a restaurant where they were having dinner.

The lone man charged in the case -- Harsh Jindal, who police claimed was the getaway driver -- had his charges dropped last month, court records show.

The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service said the charges were stayed after a preliminary inquiry led prosecutors to conclude there was 'no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction.' 

"With a heavy heart, I contemplate how it's conceivable for a child to be killed in such a tragic manner like this," Alberta's premier, Danielle Smith, said in a statement.

"Like many of you, I am concerned with the rise in gun violence in our neighbourhoods." 

Edmonton, like other metropolitan areas across Canada, is grappling with an increase in shootings and gang-related crimes. But the death of a child has intensified police efforts to solve Thursday's daylight shooting.

"We're going to give it everything we got," said Derksen.

"We're pulling out all the stops. We lost a child here."

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