Police have charged two Lower Mainland men with first-degree murder in connection with the Surrey killing of businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik.
While Malik was actively involved in his community, he was best known as one of two men acquitted in the 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people, most of them Canadians.
Two bombs were put on planes departing from Vancouver International Airport. One exploded off the coast of Ireland, the other in Tokyo's Narita Airport.
The new charges against Tanner Fox, 21, of Abbotsford and Jose Lopez, 23, of New Westminster relate to the July 14 shooting near the 8200-block 128 Street. Police responded to shots fired just before 9:30 a.m.
Malik, 75, died at the scene.
The address of the killing, 8236 128th St., is where a company called Papillon Eastern Imports operates. Court records show Malik was involved with the company.
Officers found Malik suffering from gunshot wounds. Police said the shooting appeared targeted.
Both men were arrested July 26 peacefully at their residences.
“Both of these men are known to police,” Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Supt. Mandeep Mooker said.
Police gave few details of the case; they could not discuss evidence that will be before the courts.
Mooker said the elements for premeditation were met, allowing for the laying of first-degree murder charges.
Asked if the men were involved in organized crime or radicalized groups, or acted alone or at the behest others, Mooker said he could not comment.
He said the investigation remains in its infancy and is ongoing.
Malik family reaction
Son Jaspreet Malik said “since our father’s assassination,” his family remains in shock and was dismayed at the age of the accused men.
“I feel mixed emotions,” Malik said. “This is not the end. It is a step in the process. It still does not answer ‘why?’”
Malik said the two are not known to the family.
“Who hired these people or were they acting alone?” Malik asked. “We’re waiting for answers.”
“None of it is going to bring my father back,” he said.
Fox and Lopez have already appeared in Surrey provincial court and are due to return for bail proceedings on Aug. 10.
Fox is no stranger to the criminal justice system. Last fall, he was charged in connection with an aggravated assault and was on bail at the time of Malik’s death.
In April, Fox was jailed for four days for resisting or obstructing a peace officer and sentenced to four days in jail.
Fox was convicted of assault causing bodily harm in connection with an Abbotsford November 2019 stabbing and was sentenced to 119 days in jail.
The suspect vehicle
A vehicle fully engulfed in flames was located nearby in the area of 82 Avenue and 122A Street; police believe it's associated with the shooting.
Mooker called the white, Honda SUV a “suspect vehicle.”
Neighbours around the scene of the burned-out car were urged out of their homes by police at about 9:30 a.m.
Jasmeen Kaur said the noise was "like a bomb."
She said she could see the flames from her house in the alley behind.
"There was a big explosion," she said. "It was very scary. I just ran out of the house and the police came."
She said other neighbours were also leaving their homes.