"Some individuals have been forthcoming, some have not," said Cpl. Frank Jang with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. "Some have shut the door on us, and we're hoping they will reopen those lines of communication with us."
Two burned-out cars were found the same night as the killings that police said may be linked. They're still looking for witnesses.
On June 4th, 2018, investigators say the bodies of 17-year-old Jaskaran (Jesse) Singh Bhangal and 16-year-old Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty were found in the rural area of 192 Street and 40th Avenue. The teens were last seen playing basketball with a group of friends at George Vanier Elementary.
"He was just a child, No parent should ever have to spend their life wondering what could have possibly happened in their child's final moments."
Jhutty said education about drugs and gangs was a priority in their household, so the idea that the boys' deaths could be gang-related comes as a shock.
Family appealing to public for information a year after 2 teens killed in Surrey
"It seemed as if we were doing everything right as parents and older siblings … We have no answers as to why someone would do this to Jason."
"My family and I haven't been the same since," Sharon Bhangal, Jassi's older sister, said at a news conference. "We have a huge hole in our hearts that can never be filled."
Bhangal said she and her brother used to celebrate their birthdays together because they were in the same month. It's just now beginning to dawn on her that her birthday will never be the same.
"I now realize that I didn't just lose my baby brother, I lost a piece of myself which I can never get back."
The young ages of the teenagers led to some significant changes in the city, says Gurpreet Singh Sahota.
Here is Cpl. Jang with @HomicideTeam explaining some of the circumstances. They believe the murders of both teens were targeted and gang related. Neither Jason Jhutty, 16, or Jesse Bhangal, 17, have been found to have any kind of gang or criminal connections. @CTVVancouver pic.twitter.com/aTeLCH3X8p
Following the teenagers' murder, Sahota and a few others founded Wake Up Surrey and organized a protest outside Surrey City Hall, which was attended by thousands who spoke out against gang violence, including grieving family members of the two teens.
"Unfortunately we will not get to see my baby brother grow into the man he deserved to become," she said. "We have a huge hole in our hearts that will never be filled. Our eyes will always ache to see him smile one last time."
"They were teenagers and not their time to go. Everyone is worried if this thing can happen to a 16 and 17-year-old, it can happen to 15, 14 or 13. Have to stop it here," he said.
Sahota also believes the murders changed the course of the municipal election in Surrey and led the city to transition to a local police force instead of the RCMP.
"People were thinking the previous council was not sincere and not doing enough. People need change. That's why they're asking for even police change," he said.
On Monday, the City of Surrey announced its plans to transition to an independent police force by April 1, 2021.
The report says a municipal force would cost $192.5 million in 2021 — a 10.9 per cent increase over the projected costs of keeping the RCMP — and would have 805 police officers and 20 community safety personnel.
Currently, Surrey RCMP has an authorized strength of 843 police officers with 51 vacancies that have been backfilled.
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The pair was last seen alive playing basketball with a group at Georges Vanier Elementary in Surrey, and on Tuesday, Jesse’s sister pleaded with anyone who knows what happened afterwards to speak with investigators.
Jassi Bhangals sister Sharon says the families dont know why the murders happened or what the motive could be.
That is how one family member characterized the full year that has now passed since her brother Jason Jhutty, 16, and his friend Jassi Bhangal, 17, were found dead with gunshot wounds at the side of a rural Surrey road last June.
“We have felt his absence in every minute of every day,” Pawan Jhutty told reporters during a news conference police held Tuesday in the hopes of sparking fresh tips that could help them answer a pair of key questions: Who did it and why.
Jason had no history of criminal activity or even police interaction before he was murdered, Pawan said at the headquarters of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team in Surrey. He was a gentle soul who often thought with his heart before his brain, she said.
“We have no answers as to why someone would ever do this to Jason. He was only 16 years old. He was just a child,” Pawan said. “Someone out there knows what happened to Jason. They know why he didn’t come home.”
IHIT says 17-year-old Jaskaran (Jesse) Singh Bhangal (left) and 16-year-old Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty, were killed in a double-shooting in Surrey. IHIT
The smallest piece of information means everything, she said. “Our family should be helping Jason prepare for his high school graduation but instead we are asking our community to help solve his murder. We must ensure that justice is served.”
Sharon Bhangal, Jassi’s sister, said her family was left “in utter shock” when police came knocking on their door in the early morning hours after the shooting.
“I now realize that I didn’t just lose my baby brother I lost a piece of myself which I can never get back. I lost my only sibling and my parents lost their only son,” Sharon said in a voice that cracked with emotion.
Sharon offered memories of her brother. Jassi had a huge smile and a contagious laugh, she said. He spent his summers working as a plumber for his uncle in hopes of saving enough cash to buy his dream car, a Ford Mustang. He wanted to become an automotive mechanic.
Jason was one of a kind. He had the heart of a giant and was the kind of person who would think with his heart before his brain. Jason was always calm and usually smiling or laughing. He was a gentle soul. I always thought he was ahead of his time. He had the brightest ideas and could find a solution for almost any problem. Everyone always learned something from him.
“Unfortunately, we will not get to see my baby brother grow into the man he deserved to become,” Sharon said. “Our hearts will always ache for him.”
My name is Pawan, I am the older sister of Jason Jhutty. Jason is the youngest of three in our family. We liked to call him the baby of our family. He was the heart of our home. He made our family complete. This past year without him has been dark and full of pain. We have felt his absence in every minute of every day.
Jassi and Jason were found dead in the 18700-block of 40th Avenue at around 10:30 p.m. on June 4, 2018. The teens were last seen alive around 7 p.m. that day at Georges Vanier Elementary, at 6985-142nd St., where they were playing basketball, police say.
About 45 minutes before the teens’ bodies were discovered, Mounties found a burning vehicle near 184th Street and 29A Avenue. A second burning car was found near 177th Street and 93rd Avenue at around 11 p.m.
IHIT is still gathering evidence in the case, said Frank Jang, a spokesman for the team. Police are still firm in the belief that the boys were targeted, he said. While the victims weren’t known to be members of gangs, based on what investigators had learned over the last year, “this was gang-related,” Jang said, declining to explain further.
Jang said there are people out there with intimate knowledge of what happened and who have shut the door on communicating with police. He urged those people to rethink that “because quite frankly, we’re not going anywhere.”
Anyone with information can call IHIT at 1-877-551-4448, email [email protected], or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Thousands of residents had protested outside city hall after the double murder, with one rally organizer calling the deaths a “turning point” for the city. Several months later, longtime ruling party Surrey First was pushed from power by the Safe Surrey Coalition, which turned anger over crime and gun violence, among other issues, into votes. The coalition ran on a promise to turf the local RCMP in favour of a municipal police force.