11-year-old's father, who was also killed, had been targeted in previous shooting
An 11-year-old boy was intentionally shot to death along with his father Thursday at a busy shopping plaza in southeast Edmonton in what police are calling a troubling escalation of gang violence in the city.
The child and his 41-year-old father, Harpreet Uppal, were killed inside their vehicle around noon Thursday. The boy was not mistakenly hit, Edmonton Police Service acting Supt. Colin Derksen told a Friday morning news conference.
Uppal was "followed with the intention of finding him and ending his life. And it happened," Derksen said.
"With the young boy, his son, we don't know yet … that he was targeted in that sense. But what we do know, and sadly, is that once the shooter or the shooters learned that the son was there, [they] intentionally killed him. Shot and killed him. So he was not caught in a crossfire or killed by mistake."
A second child, a friend of the boy who died, was in the vehicle when the shooting happened but was able to run away. He was not physically harmed, Derksen said.
Uppal had been targeted two years ago in a shooting at an Edmonton pizza restaurant, Derksen said.
Shot outside an A&W at noon
The shooting happened outside of a combined Petro-Canada and A&W located near 50th Street and Ellerslie Road. The area is mainly made up of retail establishments and is near some residential neighbourhoods.
When officers arrived, Uppal and his son were in medical distress. Both died at the scene.
Violent incidents have been on the rise in Edmonton in recent years, much of it connected to organized crime and gang activity, Derksen said.
EPS has recorded 196 shootings — most of them believed to be targeted — so far this year. Derksen said that is a 46 per cent increase over the same period last year.
Innocent bystanders are increasingly finding themselves in harm's way, he added.
Boy, 11, deliberately killed in gang-related shooting, Edmonton police say
7 hours ago
Featured VideoAn 11-year-old boy and his father were intentionally killed at a busy shopping plaza in southeast Edmonton on Thursday in what police say was a gang-related shooting. Edmonton Police Service acting Supt. Colin Derksen told a news conference the boy 'was not caught in a crossfire or killed by mistake.'
In October, seven of 13 reported shootings resulted in injuries to people. Eleven had the potential to hurt or kill bystanders, including children, Derksen said.
"These reckless actions show all too clearly that the landscape has changed out there and … this really bugs me," he said. "There's no longer any respect for children, families, innocent citizens among our rival organized crime groups, our gangsters, when they carry out violence to further their own interests."
Uppal, the 41-year-old killed Thursday, was well-known to police as a higher-up in the Edmonton gang and drug scene, Derksen said.
Court documents show that at the time of his death, Uppal was facing charges for cocaine possession and trafficking, as well as illegal possession of body armour. He was set to go to trial in April 2024.
He'd previously been charged with assault with a weapon and unauthorized possession of a firearm, but the proceedings were stayed in February.
In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail on a different unauthorized firearm possession charge.
In October 2021, Uppal had been eating dinner with his family — including a nine-year-old child — at a Royal Pizza in south Edmonton when an assailant fired multiple gunshots at them through a window.
Derksen said police had worked with Uppal to find "opportunities to step out of that lifestyle and keep him and his family safe."
He said the deliberate killing of Uppal's son on Thursday shows how fierce the power struggle among gangs has become.
"That's where I talk about this line in the sand with organized crime. That's just changed. Like, that is sick and twisted."
Derksen reiterated Friday that a vehicle fire may be linked to the scene.
The vehicle was found in the area of 34th Street and Township Road 510, north of Beaumont, police said. No one was located inside the vehicle and no injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, police said.
Derksen said the suspect vehicle in the shooting was a black 2012 BMW X6 that had been stolen.
He said Thursday's shooting has shaken EPS investigators, but he added: "We're going to give it everything we got.
"We're pulling out all the stops. We lost a child here."
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