Two men charged with murder in 2009 shooting near Vancouver halfway house

Published: June 23, 2014

Gang members shot, killed or charged in recent months for Kim Bolan story. Raj Soomel was shot but not killed in Vancouver at his house. Submitted photo.

KIM BOLAN
POSTMEDIA NEWS

Two men have been charged in a 2009 Vancouver murder in which the victim was mistaken for another gangster living in the same halfway house.

Vancouver police confirmed Monday that Kevin James Jones, 36, and Colin Victor Stewart, 33, were arrested and charged Friday night with first-degree murder for the Sept. 29, 2009 murder of Rajinder Singh Soomel.

Both have been remanded in custody.

Insp. Laurence Rankin confirmed that the killers were targeting Independent Soldiers founder Randy Naicker, but got the wrong man.

“Investigators with the VPD Homicide Unit determined that Raj Soomel fell victim to a gang-related shooting gone wrong,” Rankin said. “Mr. Soomel was not the intended victim and was in the wrong place at the wrong time when gunmen came looking for another target.”

Rankin also confirmed that the Naicker was warned by police about the death threats against him.

“VPD investigators did speak with and inform Mr. Naicker that his life could still be in danger. He would later be murdered on June 25, 2012, in Port Moody. That homicide remains under investigation by the Vancouver Police Department,” Rankin said.

He would not comment on whether Jones and Stewart are alleged to have been hired by someone else or if the pair is suspected in Naicker’s murder.

“We believe it¹s gang-related, but beyond that I am not about to say,” Rankin said. “I am not about to disclose that because the matter is still under investigation.”

Soomel, 35, was living in a halfway house near Cambie and 21st when two masked killers arrived looking for Naicker, who had been paroled to the same residence five days earlier.

A halfway house worker ­— who was pistol-whipped by the assailants — had mistakenly written in a logbook that Naicker had gone to a nearby corner store, when in fact it was Soomel who left the facility that evening.

The killers found the man they believed was their target as he crossed Cambie at 19th. Soomel was shot to death in the middle of the street.

Both Jones and Stewart have histories with police, according to the online court database.

Jones was convicted in Vancouver for a 1997 incident in which he uttered death threats. He got two years’ probation and a five-year firearms ban.

He also pleaded guilty in 1999 to a sexual assault and robbery with a firearm for a violent home invasion on Saltspring Island the previous December. He was sentenced to 15 years.

During the invasion, he and an accomplice wore police jackets and claimed to be executing a search warrant. After Jones raped a woman in the house, he told her the neighbourhood belonged to the Hells Angels.

Stewart was convicted of trafficking in Burnaby in 2002. He got a fine and probation.

While Soomel was killed by mistake, his criminal history was also gang-related.

He was convicted for plotting to kill a witness who testified against his younger brother Robbie in a 2000 gangland slaying.

The elder Soomel told an undercover cop that he wanted to kill Hardip Singh Uppal for putting his brother behind bars in one murder and implicating him in several others, including the 1998 assassination of journalist Tara Singh Hayer.

Mounties investigating the Hayer murder posed as underworld criminals who befriended Raj Soomel in an attempt to get information about the journalist’s still unsolved death.

Instead, Soomel hired the cops to kill Uppal, saying in a taped conversation that he hated rats and that “every dog has his day.”

In March 2008, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to four years. He was paroled just weeks before he was shot to death.

Soomel also survived a September 2000 shooting at his family’s south Vancouver home.

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