A 40-year-old Langley man is accused of orchestrating targeted attacks against staff and students at the Justice Institute of B.C.
After a complicated four-year investigation, Vincent Eric Gia-Hwa Cheung was arrested on Friday, Sept. 18. A rural property on 267 Street in Aldergrove was also being combed over by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFESU) that same day.
Between April 2011 and January 2012, 15 people were targeted in a series of offences, which occurred in multiple jurisdictions, including Surrey, Richmond and West Vancouver. Their homes, vehicles, and property were the subject of shootings and arsons.
In July 2011, the Justice Institute, which trains law enforcement and other officers, received a threatening email. The message referenced nine staff and students at the institute, located in New Westminster. All but one of those individuals had their homes or vehicles targeted.
The motive was unknown at the time and police weren’t divulging motive at a press conference on Monday.
However, Cheung is alleged to have possible gang ties.
The investigation established that an ICBC employee had queried the 15 victims’ licence plates which provided their personal details, including home addresses. When ICBC discovered the privacy breach in 2011, they said they fired the female employee.
In January 2012, the investigation advanced after three suspects connected to an arson in Surrey were identified.
Interviews with the suspects enabled police to identify the alleged contractor of that arson. This led police to the name of the alleged orchestrator of all the targeted attacks a gainst JI employees and students.
The investigation continued despite no new attacks having occurred for a couple of years.
Then, between Dec. 31, 2014 and Jan. 13, 2015, a number of the victims received suspicious letters in the mail, said police.
One of the letters contained a warning that attacks would resume in the New Year. Investigators reconnected with all the victims to ensure adequate safety plans were in place.
“We know there are still people who have additional information about these offences and this investigation is continuing, with further arrests and charges anticipated,” said the CFSEU-BC’s Chief Officer Kevin Hackett.
“The investigation was complicated and made even more challenging by the efforts of the accused to disguise their intent through cunning and calculated misdirection.
“These past four and a half years have been difficult for the victims and their families and their co-operation and support has been appreciated.”
Cheung is charged with 19 counts of intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire or explosion to homes and vehicles.
Four counts of intentionally discharging a firearm into or at a place or vehicle knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, another person is present in that dwelling.
Thurman Taffe, a 54-year-old Burnaby resident was also arrested on Friday, accused of being contracted to carry out one of the arsons. He is charged with one count of intentionally causing damage by fire or explosion to a house. Both men remain in custody.
Apart from several speeding and excessive speeding tickets, Cheung doesn’t appear to have a criminal background. In 2003, he won the $2.6 million B.C. Cancer Foundation Lifestyles prize home.
PICTURE BELOW: A rural property on 267 Street in Aldergrove was abeing combed over by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFESU) on Sept. 18, the same day Aldergrove resident Vincent Cheung was arrested and charged with 23 counts of arsons and shootings against students and staff of the Justice Institute.