Witness testifies Radio India executive was “walking with the gun at his side”

Published: July 17, 2014
Surrey Radio India

Radio India’s Maninder Gill (R) walks out of the court in New Westminster where he is being tried for aggravated assault and firing a weapon. Photo: Larissa Cahute, Vancouver Desi

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

NEW WESTMINSTER —  A prominent Surrey broadcaster delivered a speech for the bride and groom just moments before he allegedly fired a gun at an August 2010 Sikh wedding, a B.C. Supreme Court trial in New Westminster was told Thursday.

Maninder Gill, managing director of Radio India, has pleaded not guilty to a number of gun offences in connection with the Aug. 28 daylight shooting at Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh gurdwara.

In the trial’s second day, Sukhpreet Singh Heir, a Canada Border Services Agency officer who was the master of ceremonies at the wedding, testified via video link from Britain that just moments before the wedding came to a close, he introduced Gill to the crowd of about 1,000 people to deliver a speech.

Once the ceremony wrapped up some time after noon, Heir told the court he “heard some screams” coming from the parking lot, from which he “saw people running.”

As he moved toward the scene, he noticed Gill, “walking with the gun at his side,” Heir testified, adding the gun was “very distinctive” with a round cylinder and long barrel. He also noticed a woman walking alongside him, whom he believed was trying to calm him down.

“(Gill) appeared aggravated in nature — the way he was walking,” said Heir.

He then saw shooting victim Harjit Atwal lying on the ground with a wound on his upper left leg as people gathered around him to help.

As Heir tried to see which direction Gill had gone with the gun, he noticed a white Mercedes drive away from the temple, but didn’t see who was in it.

Another witness, Jaspal Singh Atwal, said he heard at least four shots during the chaos, in which he claimed Gill was repeatedly shouting in Punjabi, “Come on, Atwals,” as he was “jumping up and down” holding the gun.

Jaspal Atwal testified that his relationship with Gill at the time was “not that great,” because — like Harjit Atwal — he had recently filed a civil suit against the broadcaster for alleged defamatory remarks made against him on Radio India.

Gill has pleaded not guilty to pointing a firearm, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, unauthorized possession of a firearm, two counts of discharging a firearm with intent to wound or disfigure, aggravated assault, possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm and unlawfully discharging a firearm.

The trial is expected to run until July 25 and hear from a number of witnesses, including Gill himself.

lcahute@theprovince.com

twitter.com/larissacahute

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