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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Gangster Thomas Gisby's funeral draws heavy police presence

15:25 |

A large contingent of police officers kept a close eye on the south Surrey funeral of longtime gangster Thomas Gisby on Friday. About 75 mourners attended the service at Victory Memorial Park near 148th Street and 28th Avenue. Gisby, 47, was gunned down in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico on April 28 after ordering his coffee at a local Starbucks. Police believe the slaying of the crime kingpin could be linked to the tit-for-tat violence that has plagued B.C. since the Kelowna murder last August of Red Scorpion Jon Bacon and wounding of Hells Angel Larry Amero and Independent Soldier James Riach. Supt. Tom McCluskie, head of the Gang Task Force, said at the time that tensions over the Kelowna shooting had led to retaliation against the so-called Dhak-Duhre group. For more than a decade, Gisby had a close relationship with senior Hells Angels in B.C. But he more recently had been aligned with people in the Dhak group. Sukh Dhak, out on bail on a number of drug charges, attended the funeral Friday with his associate Thomas Mantle. Dhak tried to shield his face from media cameras as he entered the chapel. Also in attendance was Michael Taff, linked to Langley's Empire Gang, and Gisby associate Glen Sheck, currently out on bail on gun charges. Surrey RCMP Cpl. Drew Grainger said police were there to ensure the safety of the public and of those attending the service. "First and foremost we are here to ensure the safety of the people who are coming to pay their respects to Mr. Gisby," Grainger said. "Because of Mr. Gisby's background and associations in the criminal element, there of course is the potential for rival competitors in the criminal world to maybe attend here and maybe settle some scores." More than a dozen cops from Surrey's Gang Enforcement Unit and the regional Gang Task Force checked identification and chatted up guests as they entered the service. Other officers drove marked cars around the memorial park's perimeter and blocked some entrances to the compound. And some police could be seen searching the adjacent bushes where area residents were out enjoying the Semiahmoo Trail. Grainger said police were in dialogue with Gisby's family in advance of the event to let them know they would be present. "Whenever we have figures such as Mr. Gisby who have passed away, we have a robust police presence at their funerals, not only in Surrey, but throughout the region," Grainger said. He said police were also gathering intelligence about who attended and with whom they arrived. "That's no secret. It's an opportunity for the police to gather intelligence, and the latest photographs of some of the people we believe are involved in the criminal world. That is certainly a strategy that is employed here as well," Grainger said. Victory Memorial Park funeral director Kari Landreville said no one minded the heavy police presence. "They are here to protect our community," she said. "They are here to protect us. They are here to protect the people arriving for a service." Gisby's family did not respond to a media request for an interview after the service. But they remembered him in an obituary published in The Vancouver Sun as "a kind & generous spirit & will be remembered by many." It said his murder "leaves a hole in our hearts that can never be filled." "His infectious smile & beautiful twinkling brown eyes will be missed every day," it said. "Rest in peace Grumpy, our hearts are absolutely broken & we will miss you every day."

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