Police identify suspect vehicle, seek 3rd suspect in killing of Surrey gurdwara president

Hundreds protested outside the Consulate General of India office in downtown Vancouver Saturday, nearly a week after the president of a Surrey Gurdwara was shot and killed in an attack that police believe was targeted. As Paul Johnson reports, demonstrators allege foreign interference may have been behind the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Homicide investigators have identified a suspect vehicle and are now seeking a third suspect in the high-profile killing of a gurdwara president in Surrey in June.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds inside a vehicle outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara just before 8:30 p.m. on June 18.

The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) initially sought two suspects described as “heavier-set males wearing face coverings,” but on Wednesday, confirmed those men did not act alone.

A silver 2008 Toyota Camry was stashed near the crime scene around 121st Street and 68th Avenue, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti said in a press conference. He could not say whether that vehicle was stolen, but police hope someone from the public can help identify it.

“We believe this vehicle was waiting on 121st Street, intentionally waiting for the two suspects to complete the homicide,” Pierotti said.

“Investigators have now confirmed there was a third suspect involved in the murder.”

The suspect vehicle in the June 18, 2023 shooting of Surrey's Hardeep Singh Nijjar is a silver 2008 Toyota Camry, seen here.

The suspect vehicle in the June 18, 2023 shooting of Surrey's Hardeep Singh Nijjar is a silver 2008 Toyota Camry, seen here.

Handout/Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Investigators believe the first two suspects fled the scene on foot southbound on 122nd Street through Cougar Creek Park to the getaway vehicle.

There is no new evidence about those suspects that can be released, Pierotti added.

No arrests have been made to date and Pierotti has previously attempted to soothe public safety concerns since the killing, particularly among the Sikh community in Surrey.

“We have no reason to believe that the Sikh community is at risk,” the sergeant said in June. “This was a targeted incident where one person was the target.”

Nijjar’s loss, meanwhile, has been deeply felt.

Prabjot Singh, a representative Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, said emotions were “raw” after the killing and described the president’s death as a “massive loss.”

“I think first and foremost, the most prominent feeling is a marked commitment and determination to continue by Hardeep Singh’s work,” he told Global News in June.

“Where there’s that kind of grit and resilience to continue that work and advocacy, there is also a strong emotional connection just considering how strong and how important of a figure he was in the community, as a major community leader, as an elder brother.”

In addition to a well-known community leader, elder and advocate, Nijjar was a Khalistani, supporting the creation of a separate state for Sikhs. The Khalistan movements rose to prominence in the 1980s, however discussion around sovereignty for Sikhs and Punjab can be traced back to the 1947 partition of India.

Multiple sources have told Global News Nijjar was threatened repeatedly before he was killed, reportedly in relation to his political activism. In a May 18 interview with Burnaby’s Spice Radio 1200 AM, Nijjar had voiced concerns about being on a hit list.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has accused Canadian police and intelligence agencies of failing to protect Nijjar, given the “known” threats to his life.

According to an Indian media report in 2016, Nijjar was accused of running a training camp in Mission, B.C. to potentially carry out attacks in Punjab. RCMP have said there was no information substantiating those claims at the time.

In 2018, India filed a First Information Report against Nijjar, whom it accuses of plotting to carry out a major terrorist attack in Punjab.

Nijjar has repeatedly claimed his innocence and penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling allegations “factually baseless and fabricated.”

IHIT has declined to confirm or deny that Nijjar had been threatened prior to his death, acknowledging the speculation but stating that evidence — not rumours — will guide the investigation.

Police have asked anyone with information on the shooting to contact them at 1-877-551-4448 or ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

Anyone in need of confidential, non-judgmental, 24/7 mental health support can contact Crisis Centre BC at 1-784-2433.
Emotional support and information on mental health resources is also available at 310-6789, no area code needed. 


© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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