Police had a block of Panorama Crescent cordoned off while the investigation was underway on Saturday. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Courtenay mayor critical of RCMP response to ‘problem houses’

Larry Jangula believes more could be done about houses like the one on Panorama Crescent

In the wake of Friday night’s shooting in East Courtenay, Mayor Larry Jangula believes more could have been done by the Comox Valley RCMP detachment about a “problem house” on Panorama Crescent.

Jangula — who spent a career with the RCMP before going into politics — said complaints from neighbours indicate the house on Panorama Crescent has been a problem for at least seven years, with people streaming in and out of it daily to perform illegal activities.

Read More: Gunshots fired in Courtenay neighbourood

“Of course, it’s easy to be an armchair, 20-20 hindsight specialist, but I think one of the things that seem to have fallen through the cracks, at least from what the neighbours have told me… [was] that there was plenty of indication that there were things going on at these residences for a long time,” he said.

Jangula said he heard that neighbours had offered to help the RCMP on the file through various means, including supplying evidence, taking photographs of licence plates, or offering their homes as police surveillance posts.

“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think that’s been taken up on,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean the police haven’t done anything. I’m not saying that. A lot of what’s done on these sorts of files is stuff people really don’t see. The issue is just that it seems like it’s been going on for a long, long time.”

Cst. Monika Terragni, the Comox Valley RCMP’s media relations officer, said the detachment encourages residents to call the police and report suspicious activity.

“Just because you called last month doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be calling again,” she wrote in an email to The Record. “Every piece of information is important and will contribute to the investigator’s understanding of the situation.”

The rear windshield of a silver car was shot out Friday night, following an altercation between residents at Panorama Crescent. At least two shots were fired, according to witnesses, with at least one of the bullets striking the car’s rear window. No one was hurt in the incident.

Panorama Crescent resident Dustin, who did not want to provide his last name, said his car was the one that was shot at on Friday. He told reporters that he had gone over to the house’s driveway to try and get the occupants to be quiet around 11:30 p.m.

He ended up getting into a quarrel with them before the shots were fired at his vehicle while he was walking away.

“There are cops who have been here for 10 years. They tell me they’ve known about this house for eight or 10 years. How do you not do something about it?” he said.

Jangula said the City of Courtenay is aware of the house on Panorama, though he stressed the issue is a police matter and not within the City’s jurisdiction.

“I’ve had numerous people from that neighbourhood come see me at ‘Meet the Mayor’ and talk to me about it,” said Jangula. “They were given indications that, yeah, people were trafficking and it was small amounts. The message was that wasn’t enough to warrant doing anything further.”

According to Terragni, the investigation into Friday night’s shooting is still ongoing.

“Investigations into drug activity are particularly complex due to the nature of the people involved – they’re often transient, not staying in one place for very long and not doing business in one place for very long, sometimes even getting out of their business for months or years at a time,” she said.

She said the public will often not see the work being done by police about drug activity because they are being covert.

“Speaking from my own experience, I’ve been a part of investigations in which people do not think the police are doing their job, when in fact, it is quite the opposite,” wrote Terragni, adding that policing drug activity is a priority for the detachment.

Despite his criticism of how the RCMP has handled the file, Jangula believes the shooting on Friday will be a “turning point” in regards to how Comox Valley police officers handle problem houses.

“I’m very confident after talking to senior members of the RCMP that things will be done and be done differently,” he said.

“It’s something I think is going to change things. I honestly believe that.”

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