They were called The Wolfpack – a collection of gang figures from various organizations. Jonathan Bacon and two other associates were all together in a Porsche-Cayenne SUV out front of Kelowna hotel one summer afternoon in 2011 when masked gunmen opened fire on them.
Mr. Bacon, a prominent figure in B.C.'s gang culture as one of the Bacon Brothers and part of the Red Scorpions, was killed in the attack near the entrance to the Delta Grand Hotel and Resort in Kelowna. Witnesses said the attackers fled in a green SUV.
Four others in the vehicle were wounded, including Larry Amero, identified by police as a member of the Hells Angels, and James Raich, who police say was a member of the Independent Soldiers. The survivors were badly injured. One woman was left a paraplegic.
On Monday, the province's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit announced it had arrested three people in the case, which brought gang violence to the heart of one of the province's largest cities.
The suspects, nabbed as a result of an 18-month investigation codenamed E-Nitrogen, were arrested last Friday without incident in Surrey, the Sunshine Coast community of Gibsons, and Toronto. They face charges of first-degree murder in the death of Mr. Bacon, and attempted murder in the other shootings.
Police identified the suspects as 25-year-old Jujhur Khun-Khun of Surrey; Michael Jones, also 25, of Gibsons, and 37-year-old Jason McBride of North Vancouver, but recently living in Toronto. Dan Malo, the chief officer of the combined forces unit and an RCMP chief superintendent, said there was one other suspect who is now dead, but declined to be more specific.
Police allege all three are members of criminal gangs.
As the arrests were under way, 100 police officers were executing search warrants in the Lower Mainland, Kelowna and Toronto to bolster their case that the shooting was the result of unusual alliances prompted by the 2010 shooting of gang member Gurmit Dhak in the parking lot of the Metrotown mall in Burnaby.
Just as the Wolfpack rallied disparate members to a common goal, so other gang members have been working together, police said.
"This was a targeted, organized attack by those at the highest level of organized crime in our province," Supt. Malo told a news conference held under heavy security at the unit's headquarters in Delta.
"This was not a contact that was unplanned. I think that's about as much as I can say about the particular day."
Of Mr. Bacon, Supt. Malo said, "[He] was part of the global conflict that I speak about today."
Supt. Malo said the investigation, like all gang operations, was complicated because of a lack of co-operation from witnesses due to a culture of secrecy. Many such cases collapse, he said.
Assistant RCMP Commissioner Wayne Rideout went further by saying criminal gangs have a lot of money and emerging "counter-investigation skills " – strategies to block the police collection of evidence.
Police declined to get into specifics on their investigative tactics such as the use of undercover officers.
Mr. Rideout said, however, that he did not expect the arrests and prosecution would stop gang crime. "It would be naive to think the removal of some central figures in the recent rash of violent activity will mean the end of it. This is going to go on for some time. We are doing everything we can to reduce that risk," he said. "It's not over."