A Gibsons man is one of three accused in the high-profile 2011 gang slaying of Jonathan Bacon in Kelowna.
Michael Kerry Hunter Jones, 25, of Gibsons and two other men — Jujhur Khun-Khun, 25, of Surrey and Jason Thomas McBride, 37, of North Vancouver — have each been charged with first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC) and Kelowna RCMP announced Feb. 25 during a news conference in Delta.
The charges followed an 18-month CFSEU-BC-led investigation dubbed E-Nitrogen.
Police said the three were arrested on Feb. 22 without incident — Jones at a residence in Vancouver, Khun-Khun in Surrey and McBride in Toronto, where he had just moved. About 100 police officers took part in the arrests, executing six search warrants in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and Toronto.
Bacon, a member of the Red Scorpions gang, died in a spray of bullets while sitting in a white Porsche Cayenne SUV parked at the entrance of Kelowna’s Delta Grand Hotel and Resort on Aug. 14, 2011.
Four other people inside the vehicle with Bacon, including Hells Angel Larry Amero, were wounded in the mid-afternoon attack — three of them seriously — but Bacon was the only occupant to die from his injuries.
One of the other victims, Leah Hadden-Watts, was left a paraplegic, CFSEU-BC Chief Supt. Dan Malo said during the press conference. Amero and a second woman passenger, Lyndsey Black, were also seriously wounded.
Malo described the arrests as “an important accomplishment that will go far to enhance public safety in the province.” The shooting, he said, was “an act so brazen that it might have been mistaken for a bad action film.”
Bacon’s murder has been tied to the late gangster Sukh Dhak, who was gunned down in Burnaby last November. Malo said the “flashpoint” of the retaliatory gang violence dates back to the October 2010 killing of Dhak’s older brother Gurmit outside Metrotown Mall.
“But the Bacon shooting, as it was commonly called, became a starting point for a cascade of violence we saw repeated throughout B.C. during the last 18 months,” Malo said.
Unlike Khun-Khun and McBride, who were known Dhak associates and had long histories with the police, Jones was not visible on the public radar, said CFSEU-BC spokesman Sgt. Lindsey Houghton.
“Publicly and in the media he is a relative unknown. The others — Mr. Khun-Khun, you Google him and the computer overloads. It’s the complete opposite with Mr. Jones,” Houghton said.
Jones’ only conviction was in 2006 in Sechelt provincial court for driving while prohibited.
Though Gibsons was listed as Jones’ primary residence, the investigation did not spill over to the Sunshine Coast, Houghton said.
“That’s where he is from and continued to frequent. But certainly none of his alleged criminal activities in relation to this took place over there,” Houghton said.
Malo said police believe a fourth man was also directly involved in the shooting, but is now dead.
The three accused were remanded in Surrey provincial court Monday. Jones and McBride are scheduled to appear in court March 21 in Kelowna. Khun-Khun’s case was put over to March 8 in Surrey, where he is in hospital recovering from gunshot wounds from a Jan. 15 attempt on his life, the second since the Kelowna murder.
During Monday’s press conference, Malo praised the courage of the civilians at the scene of the murder, “who put aside their own safety and performed first aid to the injured parties in the immediate aftermath of this event. Given the alarming circumstances, they were very brave.”
Many community-minded citizens also came forward with information that proved valuable to the investigation, he said.
Malo said Bacon, Amero and a third occupant of the SUV, James Riach, a member of the Independent Soldiers gang, were in Kelowna that weekend after forming a criminal alliance called the Wolf Pack.
“In my many years of investigating gangs and organized crime, one thing stands out. Gangs and organized crime groups attract broken people. They are looking for connections, love and acceptance. They demand loyalty, but give little in return, and the price of that can be catastrophic,” Malo said.
He said the public was sometimes critical of police in the aftermath of the shootings and understandably felt frustrated by the seeming lack of progress.
“But the scope and breadth of this investigation cannot be underestimated. It simply wasn’t going to happen overnight. Organized crime investigations take significant resources. Over the course of this investigation, up to 80 officers and civilian personnel worked diligently to collect and analyze evidence at a great sacrifice to them personally,” he said.
The result, he said, was “a perfect storm of cooperation, commitment and support by many law enforcement agencies and members of the public who take an interest in the communities in which they live.”