High-profile Vancouver gangster Ranjit Singh Cheema was gunned down outside his parents' southeast Vancouver home Tuesday morning. Cheema was just getting into an SUV in the 1100-block of East 61st Avenue about 9 a.m. when a vehicle pulled up along side him and fired several times. Hours later, his body was still lying under a white tarp as Vancouver Police investigators searched the scene for evidence. VPD was not confirming the name, but The Vancouvere Sun has learned it was Cheema, who returned from serving a five-year drug smuggling sentence in California three months ago. Police sources and Cheema associates told The Sun it was the 43-year-old who died in the shooting. His father Malkiat Singh Cheema owns the house at 1175 East 61st where the drive-by occurred. Cheema, his wife and daughter had been staying there since he returned to Canada earlier this year. Some said it was lucky his little girl was not with him when he was shot. His distraught nephew arrived at the scene, but police would not let him go to the body. He made calls from behind the police tape saying Cheema's wife was on her way there. Then he entered the house from the alley, where several people were gathering in the garage. When a Sun reporter approached, they lowered the door and entered the house. There were security cameras on the three-car garage, though the front of the house wasn't visible from behind the police tape. Police have been warning of escalating gang tensions after a series of high-profile shootings, including that of Cheema associate Thomas Gisby in Mexico last weekend. While Cheema has been a major figure in the Lower Mainland drug trafficking scene for two decades, he was trying to re-establish himself after his prison stint. One witness said he saw the victim slumped in his SUV. He said he heard six or seven shots. "I don't know if it was an automatic weapon. There was lots of blood." Const. Jana McGuinness said an intensive search is underway for a suspect vehicle. The street has been cordoned off and VPD Major Crime investigators were on the scene. The shooting took place about half a block from an elementary school in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Area resident Rashpal Gill said she heard what she thought were firecrackers while out for a walk Tuesday morning. She said her father-in-law called her with news of a shooting and she realized what she had heard. "It is shocking," said Gill, who has lived in the area for 10 years. "This is a very nice neighbourhood."
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