There is a gangland style killing for every wallet. It doesn’t matter where you eat or socialize, you may be a witness to - or victim of - the latest episode in the gang wars that have broken out in greater Vancouver. These killings could have been lifted straight out of the movies or the Sopranos finale.
A few months ago, just four blocks from my home, gunmen walked into a Chinese restaurant on East Broadway, approached a table, and opened up. Two people were killed and others were wounded, including young girls. I assume they were the girlfriends.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed that restaurant. I used to be a regular customer at a bakery directly opposite it, before it closed, and have used the bus stop outside the former bakery many times. The bullet hole in the window of the restaurant is enough to make you think about the possibility of innocent victims of stray bullets.
A few weeks later, gunmen fired shots through the window of a more upmarket restaurant on West 4th. It has a reputation as one of the more romantic restaurants in town, I believe, but love wasn’t in the air that night. A known gangster was killed. It was only by luck that no one was killed by stray bullets, again.
A few weeks ago, a man with a past was gunned down outside a well known downtown steak house that’s so expensive I had to win a contest to eat there the one time I did. It happened in full view of other diners inside, including the rest of his party who were waiting for him.
It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or how much you can afford to spend, there’s no guarantee you can escape it. You’re not safe anywhere.
What are restaurants supposed to do – screen customers to keep out the targets? How? Should they ask customers, “Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with a criminal gang?” I don’t think they’ll volunteer that information.
There is talk of the police working with restaurants as they did with nightclubs. They visited the clubs, identified known criminals, and made it clear they were not wanted there. I don’t know how they’ll adapt that to restaurants. There are a lot more restaurants than nightclubs. Maybe they’ll just distribute names and pictures of criminals so the restaurants can refuse entry. That would take a pretty brave Maitre d’.
Whatever they do, I hope it works.