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Apparent target of connected Coquitlam gang shootings found dead in Burnaby

Chris Irwin was believed to be the intended mark in a pair of Westwood Plateau shootings less than four months apart.

A 31-year-old man who police believe was the target of two Coquitlam shootings was found dead in Burnaby this week.

Chris Irwin was identified as the body discovered just after 9:45 a.m. on Thursday (July 14) by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).

He was found by a member of the public in a vacant lot near the intersection of Norland Avenue and Laurel Street.

Irwin's murder was targeted, investigators say, and may have taken place earlier that morning after New Westminster police responded to a 4:30 a.m. vehicle fire in the 400-block of Fader Street — now believed to be connected.

IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Timothy Pierotti says there's no known risks to public safety at this time.

Westwood Plateau shootings, Port Moody vehicle fires

In early April, Coquitlam RCMP said Irwin was at the centre of two targeted gang-conflict shootings less than four months apart.

Both were at the same location in the Westwood Plateau neighbourhood and both were followed up with reported vehicle fires in Port Moody.

And Const. Deanna Law told the Tri-City News, in an earlier interview, there was "sufficient evidence" that clearly indicated Irwin was the target.

In the first incident, after 4:40 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2021, a case of mistaken identity was determined after a man was shot while sitting in his vehicle in the 1600-block of Chickadee Place while his nine-year-old son was in the backseat.

The boy was not hurt, but the father was taken to hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound and later released.

According to Mounties, the victim "was not the intended target of the shooter" and had "no known gang ties or criminal involvement."

Moments later, police in Port Moody (PMPD) responded to a vehicle fire on Maude Court — an early 2000s silver Infinity G35.

The second shooting involved Irwin as he was found with non-life threatening injuries after police responded to reports of shots fired on Chickadee Place before 3:40 p.m. on March 25 this year.

Another vehicle fire in Port Moody was also linked to the shooting after PMPD found a Toyota Rav 4 set ablaze in the 2200-block of Hope Street.

A bystander was left with serious injuries "from an explosion of the vehicle," said spokesperson Const. Sam Zacharias, adding firefighters quickly doused the flames.

At the time, RCMP asked those who knew Irwin, including friends and family, to be vigilant as he was involved with organized crime and close associates were putting themselves at risk.

"[Gang conflict is] one of the top policing priorities across the country and remains the top priority for the Province of British Columbia," Law told the Tri-City News at that point of the investigation. 

"But police also need information to move investigations forward. And this is why we're pleading to the public for any information, as insignificant as they might think that it is; there's no information that's too insignificant for us, for us to take a look at."

Irwin's homicide took place outside Coquitlam, but Law adds that's a common move for Lower Mainland gang conflict activity.

"Known gang members often travel between jurisdictions and it is important for the public to be aware so that appropriate measures can be taken to ensure their safety."

IHIT is now taking lead on Irwin's murder and investigators are also turning to the public for its help in solving the case.

"We are releasing Mr. Irwin’s name in hopes that witnesses will come forward who can assist us in building a timeline of Mr. Irwin’s whereabouts in the time leading to his death," explains Pierotti.

"Investigators continue to work tirelessly to collect evidence and speak with witnesses. We urge any associates of Mr. Irwin to please come forward."

Pierotti says witness statements are sought from those that travelled in the 3300-block of Norland Avenue in Burnaby between 3:30 and 9:30 a.m. on July 14.

As well, dashcam footage is needed for anyone who commuted the same morning between 3:30 and 5 a.m. near New Westminster's intersection of Fader Street and Braid Street.

Anyone with video or more information on Irwin's murder is urged to call IHIT's toll-free info line at 1-877-551-4448 or email ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

IHIT is working the case with Burnaby RCMP, New West police, the BC Coroners Service and the RCMP Integrated Forensic Identification Section.

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