Two men are facing murder charges after a shooting outside the Sundial Hotel on Sunday afternoon, July 24, killed two and left a bustling Whistler Village in shock.
B.C.'s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) announced Monday that Surrey residents Gursimran Sahota, 24, and Tanvir Khakh, 20, have each been charged with first-degree murder. The charges were approved on July 25 after consulting with the BC Prosecution Service, according to an IHIT release.
Sahota and Khakh are accused of firing the shots that killed Satindera Gill and Meninder Dhaliwal.
Investigators said both victims were known to police and confirmed the shooting was a targeted hit linked to ongoing gang conflict in the Lower Mainland. Dhaliwal was among several Lower Mainland gangsters previously identified by B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC) as posing a significant risk to public safety.
Three other individuals were arrested along with Khakh and Sahota, IHIT confirmed, though investigators are still working to determine the extent of these suspects’ involvement.
Whistler RCMP first responded to reports of gunfire at the Sundial Hotel at 12:19 p.m., according to police. One victim died at the scene while another succumbed to his injuries a short time later at the Whistler Health Care Centre.
Homicide investigators worked “rapidly” with Sea to Sky RCMP and the Integrated Forensic Identification Section to collect evidence in the wake of the shooting, said IHIT. Those efforts allowed police to quickly locate and apprehend the suspects on the Sea to Sky Highway.
A vehicle found burning in the 3300 block of Ptarmigan Place in Whistler’s Blueberry neighbourhood on Sunday is also believed to be associated to the shooting.
“Though this was a brazen daytime shooting in a busy village, there is not believed to be any further risk to the public, thanks to the quick response of the Sea-to-Sky RCMP members,” said IHIT Sgt. Timothy Pierotti.
Sea to Sky RCMP initially confirmed police were called to a local hotel to respond to reports of gunshots in a release sent out shortly after 3 p.m. on Sunday, nearly three hours after the first shot was fired.
The Vancouver Sun was first to identify the fatalities as 29-year-old Dhaliwal, a member of the Lower Mainland-based Brothers Keepers gang, and his friend Gill, who according to the Sun's reporting was not involved in the gang.
Graphic videos and photos that began circulating early Sunday afternoon show two men lying face down on the steps of the Sundial Hotel in a pool of blood. The car found burning south of the village represents a "hallmark" of recent gang murders, where "a suspect car has been torched after the hit," wrote the Sun's Kim Bolan.
Prior to IHIT’s confirmation late Sunday that “multiple” people had been apprehended, Sea to Sky RCMP said two males were arrested in Squamish early Sunday afternoon in connection with the double fatality.
Whistler local Brad Broughton was driving through Squamish on his way to the ferry when he noticed a major police incident surrounding a vehicle on the southbound shoulder of Highway 99, near the Garibaldi Way intersection shortly before 1:30 p.m.
“As we were rolling by there were seven, roughly, police cars,” said Broughton, including five regular marked police cars and a few unmarked vehicles Broughton said he’s “never seen before.” He estimated he saw about nine police officers taking part in the arrest, including some uniformed and others wearing jeans, t-shirts and flak jackets.
“They had one guy in cuffs—they had him standing up; I think they were probably searching him,” he said. Broughton described the man police had apprehended as tall, skinny, and “super young—like, didn’t look over mid-20s.”
'I was out here just basically looking at some bikes ... and I heard gunshots'
The Resort Municipality of Whistler issued an alert via its emergency notification system shortly after 2 p.m. informing residents that a police investigation was underway in the village and asking the public to avoid a delineated area in Skier's Plaza. "There is no danger to the public," the alert read.
Whistler Blackcomb lifts were also placed on standby at 12:47 p.m. due to the police incident. In a statement, resort spokesperson Sara Roston confirmed the mountain would stay closed for the remainder of the day out of respect for those impacted, as well as Whistler Blackcomb guests and staff. Employees resumed operations temporarily after the shooting to allow guests to download both mountains and leave the resort safely.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence, and we stand in support of our community," Roston said in a statement.
Numerous local businesses opted to close their doors Sunday afternoon, with many remaining closed for the day.
Scott Cargo was working his shift at Fanatyk Co. when he heard the gunshots sometime around 12 p.m.
"I was out here just basically looking at some bikes ... and I heard gunshots," Cargo told Pique.
"Then a little kid actually came running down from [Mountainside Lodge], came ripping down here and said there’s a shooting down there."
Cargo said his first instinct was to lock down the store.
"It didn’t really faze me ... lock the doors, keep everybody in the store, and told people to get away from the window."
IHIT has taken lead on the investigation and said it’s working closely with the Sea to Sky RCMP, the RCMP Integrated Forensic Identification Services, the B.C. Coroners Service and the CFSEU-BC—better known as B.C.’s gang unit—as the probe continues.
Police ask anyone who was in either the Sundial Crescent or Blueberry Drive areas between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on July 24 and has dash camera footage contact to IHIT’s Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police ask anyone with additional information to contact the Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044, or contact Crime Stoppers online or by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Pique will continue to update this story as additional information becomes available.
An earlier version of this story stated that graphic photos circulating following the incident show two shooting victims lying face down on the steps of the Pan Pacific Mountainside hotel. The men are instead pictured on the steps of the Sundial Hotel, with the Pan Pacific pictured in the background. This story has been updated to reflect the correct information. Pique regrets the error.
-with files from Braden Dupuis