‘Absolutely heartbreaking’: Community on edge after targeted shooting of father, son

Police say the boy that died in a shooting in southeast Edmonton on Thursday was killed intentionally. Laura Krause speaks to community members about the tragedy as they visit the growing memorial near the scene.

Flowers and teddy bears were left outside a south Edmonton fast-food restaurant where a father and his young son were killed in a targeted daytime shooting.

Harpreet Uppal, a 41-year-old man with drug and gang connections, was tracked down and fatally shot along with his 11-year-old son on Thursday while they were in a car parked outside an A&W.

BACKGROUND: 11-year-old and his father killed in ‘targeted’ Edmonton shooting

The boy was not caught in the line of fire but deliberately killed, police have said. Family confirmed to CityNews his name was Gavin.

A second boy – a friend of Gavin’s – was also in the car was not physically harmed.

Devastated community members were left trying to understand why someone would target a child.

“That’s just absolutely heartbreaking,” one Edmontonian told CityNews. “When children get involved in the middle of these things, it’s just heartbreaking, they should never.”

“And I know there is a mom out there somewhere missing her child, and that’s why I came here to put down the stuffie and the flowers so when the mom comes by, she will know there are people here that care for her and are praying for her, and that’s all I can do.”

Scene of targeted shooting outside south Edmonton fast-food restaurant, Nov. 10, 2023. (CityNews)

“We’re just out here, we pray for the family, and we feel for the family, and that’s why we came,” added Darwin Boucher. “Just to show support for our community.”

While Uppal may have been known to police – and previously targeted in a 2021 restaurant shooting – officers say they were shocked to see a child fall victim.

“This really bugs me,” said Acting Supt. Colin Derksen. “There is no longer any respect for children, families, innocent citizens amongst our rival organized crime groups, our gangsters, when they carry out violence to further their own interests.”

The fatal shooting at Ellerslie Road and 50th Street was one of two crime scenes in the area. Police believe a burned-out car found just south of the area is connected.

Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation. There have been no arrests.

Public needs to be aware of gun violence: EPS

Edmonton police are concerned bystanders could have easily been injured in such a busy plaza where the shooting took place. They say there were multiple witnesses.

“Even though this was a targeted event, the risk to members of the public was significant. And terrifying, really,” said Derksen.

Police say the shooting is part of an escalation of gun violence that the public needs to be aware of.

“This is a tough one because I don’t want to create a bunch of fear out there in the public and get people terrified,” said Derksen. “But at the same time I would say this city has become so much more violent in the last few years and this stuff happens so often in the public and people are put at risk where before they weren’t like that.

“Driving, shopping, walking, doing whatever near your home should not be unsafe like this.”

‘Next level of organized crime’

A former police inspector turned criminologist tells CityNews the public killing – specifically of a child – sends chills.

“This is just a level of violence that we haven’t seen in a long time in the Canadian context,” said Dan Jones, the chair of justice studies at NorQuest.

Jones says the fear of retaliation within criminal networks complicates the case.

“You look at, who wants to give information on someone who is going to kill a kid?” said Jones. “It actually takes it to the next level where the investigations become really complicated because people are not going to cooperate knowing these guys are going after families. That is the next level of organized crime and gangs.”

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