April 19, 2022, marked the anniversary of a 20-year-old Coquitlam man's death after he was shot in broad daylight in Town Centre Park.
Now, one year and one week later, investigators explain there were breakthroughs in Bailey McKinney's tragic case, but it has since been closed after a shocking revelation.
It's been confirmed to the Tri-City News the person responsible for McKinney's homicide died in another fatal targeted shooting, and the two incidents are connected.
A suspect has already been arrested from the second shooting and the case is still open, but no other information is being released at this time.
"Our investigators have been in contact with the family of Bailey McKinney," said Sgt. David Lee, spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), in an interview with the Tri-City News.
"Our homicide investigators worked this case extensively from the onset and spoke to several witnesses. I cannot specify exactly how many witnesses. But witness accounts were useful in identifying what transpired, which led to the formulation of a timeline. This further advanced the investigation and provided IHIT with additional leads which were pursued."
IHIT took lead on McKinney's case after Coquitlam RCMP swarmed the basketball courts in the busy area of the park around 6:30 p.m. the night of April 19, 2021, and first responders tended to the victim.
Officers then began to interview bystanders and witnesses before ground teams were deployed days later — including uniformed crime units on bikes and ATVs — in hopes of finding a suspect or someone who may have seen something.
"As with any investigation, not specific to just this one, there are witnesses that cooperate and others that do not wish to speak to police," adds Lee.
"We approach each potential witness that is identified with the mindset that it will be fruitful and then go from there."
IHIT says the homicide was connected to gangs, but not to the greater conflict that had swept other communities across the Lower Mainland at the time.
As part of the investigation, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC) was assigned to help as this was the fifth Coquitlam shooting within a month's span.
Lee hopes the incidents can also encourage local youths to get out of gang life.
"What happened to Bailey McKinney is tragic. Equally tragic is the violence that resulted from that," he says.
"These events escalate and often ends with persons in jail or dead. CFSEU-BC has an End Gang Life program which is a comprehensive gang education, prevention, and awareness initiative. Their Gang Intervention and Exiting Program supports high-risk individuals who are engaged in gang-related activities and wish to exit gang life. These teams are out there in the community and available to help youths in the lifestyle."
Another shooting one year later
A week after the Town Centre Park homicide, it was on this date last year that another shooting took place — this time, at Coquitlam Centre (file number 2021-10850).
Fortunately, no one died from the daylight incident after RCMP responded to reports of shots fired after 4 p.m. on April 26, 2021, considered a busy hour of business for the downtown shopping mall.
However, police say a man with possible connections to the shooting was taken to hospital to be treated for non-life threatening stab wounds.
Witnesses told the Tri-City News a bullet hole was noticeable in a water tank inside the Urban Roots Garden Market at the southeast corner of Coquitlam Centre.
Mounties' spokesperson Sgt. Paul Vadik said, at the time, it wasn't clear if the shooting was related to the Lower Mainland gang conflict.
This was the sixth of nine total shootings in Coquitlam last year.
Anyone with more information about a shooting or potential gang-related conflict in their neighbourhood is encouraged to call their local police department or IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or email email@example.com.