SURREY - Police have charged a Surrey man with second-degree murder and hope to make more arrests in the Christmas Day slaying of an Indian man at a corner store in Surrey.
Alok Gupta, 28, was working a shift at Ken's Grocery, in Surrey so the store's owner could celebrate this past Christmas with his family, when he was shot during what police believe was a robbery turned deadly.
"Mr. Gupta was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Insp. Kevin Hackett, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. "Investigators believe this was a robbery turned deadly."
William Andrew Whiteside, 22, of Surrey was charged Friday with second-degree murder.
"I'm confident and hopeful we will have additional arrests," Hackett said.
Gupta had been in Canada on a student visa and was studying marketing and business management at Kwantlen Polytechnic in Surrey.
After he was shot, Gupta crawled to a nearby home for help and was rushed to hospital, where he died. The shooting happened late in the afternoon, in the 117000-block of 96th Avenue in Royal Heights.
Hackett said more than 90 officers from IHIT, the Surrey RCMP plainclothes unit, Surrey RCMP's uniformed strike force and E Division's major crimes unit worked "tirelessly" on the case, putting in thousands of hours.
"We did rely on video surveillance in this case," he said. Whiteside was charged with the murder while in a federal penitentiary for robbery, Hackett said. He was arrested four or five days after the shooting, on a warrant for parole violations, and has been in custody since then. "He was held on other outstanding charges," Hackett said.
Police were in "continual contact" with Gupta's family in India during the investigation, Hackett noted. "They were relieved and pleased" upon hearing that a murder charge had been laid, he said.
Supt. Bill Fordy, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP detachment, said he's "very proud" of the officers who investigated this "serious, horrific crime."