News1130 Radio – May 2 2012 – Well-known gangster believed to be victim in fatal shooting

Well-known gangster believed to be victim in fatal shooting
Police say it was an apparent drive-by shooting at Ross and 61st Ave

May 2, 2012

By Staff – NEWS1130

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The man gunned down on a quiet street in southeast Vancouver this morning is believed to be a well-known gangster.

Men standing in the group of people behind police tape on 61st and Ross identify the victim as Ranjit Cheema, an associate of notorious gang man Bindy Johal. Police have yet to confirm the identity.

Cheema was recently back in town from an American prison after serving several years for drug smuggling.

One man says he knew Cheema for 15 years and he was trying to change his ways, attending the nearby Sikh temple. Other people on scene say Cheema lived in the basement of his family’s home, was married and had a daughter.

Jimmy Sanghera was driving nearby when the shots erupted. “Police showed up pretty fast…[I heard] at least, like, six, seven [shots]…I didn’t see anybody driving away.”

Rashpal was out for a morning walk with her mother around 9:30 a.m. when he heard the shots that she describes sounded like fireworks. “I heard two to three shots. I feel really unsafe for my kids and for myself.”

Adil Bhama lives nearby and heard something. “A couple of shots, pops, really loud. So that’s what got me to come out of my house and come check it out. When I came out, I [saw] police surrounding this area. I had to take a look, right, right in front of the ambulance and there was a body covered with a bag.”

The targeted hit happened just a couple of blocks away from an elementary school.

Author Ranj Dhaliwal, who knew a lot of people involved in organized crime during the Bindy Johal days says Cheema was a major player.

“People talk about Bindy Johal as the top dog, but even Bindy had mentioned that Ranjit was the man,” explains Dhaliwal. “When you talk about the gangs, these guys are labeled in names. With Ranjit Cheema, he was Ranjit Cheema. He was the top guy, the main man.”

Cheema has an extensive rap sheet that goes back to 1993 when he fired five gunshots into the air outside the Wild Coyote nightclub in Vancouver.

Seventeen years ago he was shot several times at a bar in Vancouver and survived.

Most recently, he was extradited to California in 2008 for a drug smuggling charge. He did his time, and came back to Vancouver earlier this year, just before another long-time gangster Sandip Duhre was shot dead at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

Cheema’s death comes just a few days after RCMP warned gang tensions are high after local gangster Thomas Gisby was gunned down outside a coffee shop in Mexico.