SURREY = IHIT investigators say they’re working on a number of leads in connection with the Christmas Day murder of an Indian business student who worked at a convenience in Surrey.
Twenty-seven-year-old Alok Gupta was shot while covering a shift for the owners so that they could enjoy Christmas with their family.
IHIT Superintendent Dan Malo says it’s an emotionally tough case for investigators.
He says this case is reminiscent of “the Maple Batalia case we dealt with, the young girl who was killed at SFU.”
Investigators believe Gupta died in an armed robbery.
Superintendent Malo adds that they “work hard on every homicide but when it comes to those you can well imagine it tears the hearts out of our investigators.”
Gupta was able to drag himself to a nearby house and call for help, but later died in hospital.
The family of Gupta says he was a happy-go-lucky man who called Canada his “dream land.”
Gupta’s brother-in-law Nitin Bhutani said he spoke to him as he made his way to work about an hour before the shooting.
“He was in jolly, happy mood,” Bhutani told CTV News in a phone interview from his home in Germany.
“We were just joking about his marriage plans…. We said OK, ‘When do you get your marriage and all that stuff?'”
Gupta had started working at the shop just a few months before he was killed, and was studying at Kwantlen University to supplement the Master’s degree in business administration he had earned back home in India. He was getting “excellent grades” and was close to the top of the class, according to Bhutani.
“He was a very happy-go-lucky person. Before he settled down, he wanted to make his career, then he can get married and he can have kids,” Bhutani said, adding that he never knew his brother-in-law be in conflict with anyone.
Gupta found the convenience store job through a distant relative, and had been warned not to provoke any neighbourhood “rowdies” if they shoplifted or demanded cash, Bhutani said.
Still, the young man assured his family that he was living in a safe place.
“He told us that it was his dream land,” Bhutani said.
“He said, ‘Nitin, why don’t you come here in Canada. The people are so nice, they’re so helping.'”
Now Bhutani wishes he had warned Gupta to be careful.
“It’s a big shock for us,” he said. “The days have never looked so long as they do now.”
A cousin who lives in Calgary has arrived in B.C. to speak with police and bring Gupta’s remains back to his parents in India for cremation.
The family is still in shock, according to Bhutani, and their main concern is that police arrest Gupta’s murderer.
“We want that Alok should get justice and the guy who is at large, who did that, should be put behind bars,” Bhutani said.
Police have yet to make an arrest in the shooting.
You can contact the IHIT tiplines by calling 1-877-551-IHIT(4448) or by email at [email protected]
If you wish to remain anonymous please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit their website at Solvecrime.ca