July 28, 2022 By Hina Alam and Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
SURREY, B.C. — The son of Ripudaman Singh Malik says the announcement of first-degree murder charges against two men in his father’s slaying brings “mixed emotions.”
Jaspreet Singh Malik told reporters that the family is glad investigators are making progress.
“At the same time, we are saddened that these two young men made such poor life choices. We trust the justice system to deal with them properly and fairly,” he said.
Tanner Fox, 21, and Jose Lopez, 23, were charged Wednesday.
Ripudaman Singh Malik was acquitted in 2005 for bombings aimed at Air India jets that killed 331 people.
He was shot in his vehicle outside his business in Surrey, B.C., on July 14.
Police gave few details about their investigation during a news conference on the charges Wednesday.
In answer to questions about a motive or whether there was any relationship between the alleged killers and the victim, officers said the investigation was ongoing.
They had a similar response when asked if they believed anyone else was involved or if other suspects were at large.
“We’re going to follow the evidence and wherever that evidence leads us is where we’ll go next,” Supt. Mandeep Mooker of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said.
Fox was arrested in Abbotsford, while Lopez was arrested in New Westminster on Tuesday, he said. A news release later said they were arrested at their homes.
Jaspreet Malik said no one in his family has heard the names of the men accused before. His family is at a loss to understand why someone would kill his father, he said.
“I mean, my father was 75 years old. He was not a young person. You know, he was healthy, he was doing well. But I mean, it doesn’t make sense.”
The police have not spoken to him about motive, although he said he still believes there is no connection between the Air India bombings and his father’s death.
“What I infer from the police telling me there is an ongoing investigation is that there’s something more there,” he said.
“And it may always be an incomplete story. We’ll never know. But again, I trust in the police to do their job and I trust they will continue to investigate.”
He is hopeful his family will get answers about his father’s death, he said. At the same time, he said speculation isn’t helpful.
“It doesn’t help our family to guess, you know, no amount of anything is gonna bring my father back.”
Police have previously saida vehicle with people inside had waited for hours that morning before Malik showed up and he was shot at about 9:30 a.m.
The same vehicle, a white Honda CRV, was found burned not far from the scene of the shooting.
Police released a photo and video of the car driving through a strip-mall parking lot but didn’t specify the number of people in the vehicle, saying they did not want to “taint” potential witnesses.
An employee who works at a nearby car wash said he heard shots on the morning Malik was killed and ran outside to find him unconscious in his red Tesla.
Malik and a co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were found not guilty of murder and conspiracy in the Air India bombings on June 23, 1985.
One bomb was on an Air India jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 passengers and crew.
About an hour later, a bomb destined for another Air India plane exploded prematurely at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, where two baggage handlers died.
Court documents show both Fox and Lopez had previous criminal records.
Lopez was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm for a 2018 incident in Abbotsford.
He was charged with seven firearms offences plus wilfully resisting an officer and uttering threats for an incident last July in Kelowna.
Fox’s convictions include assault causing bodily harm, and robbery for separate incidents in 2019 in Abbotsford.
He’s also accused of wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer in December 2021.
Fox is scheduled to appear in court in September on an assault charge for an alleged April 8 offence in New Westminster.
The BC Prosecution Service says Fox and Lopez appeared in Surrey provincial court Wednesday and the matter was adjourned until Aug. 10, when a bail hearing is scheduled.