Bal Gill’s 72-year-old father used to walk through his Newton community up to three times a day. But since a brazen daytime attack two weeks ago that left his father, Gurcharan Singh Gill, with six stitches in his head and a fractured cheekbone and jaw, he’s too afraid to leave his home to even visit the doctor.
"My father really got scared, his privacy got invaded," said Gill. "He doesn’t feel comfortable going out." There’s no safe haven any more.
On March 13, Gill was going for his regular afternoon walk around 1 pm when a stranger ran up and attacked him from behind as he reached the Newton Athletic Park — an open, public area visible from the Gills’ nearby home.
Gill was repeatedly struck in the head with a metal rod and kicked in the face, and had a gun pointed at him while the man demanded his gold jewelry. As people passed the scene, the man eventually gave up and ran off.
"We were living here since 1989, in this same house, and we never expected this would happen," added Gill. Especially in the middle of the day.
But those feelings of insecurity are all too familiar in the Newton community — especially near the Newton Hockey Arena where 53-year-old Julie Paskall was beaten to death in an apparent robbery attempt while she was waiting to pick up her son.
Since Paskall’s December 31 death, the community and local politicians have been demanding better public safety, which Surrey RCMP say they’ve enhanced.
"We’ve listened to our residents’ concerns and have acted upon it with enhanced police presence as much as we can around the clock," said Cpl Bert Paquet, adding police are also investigating the assault against Gill.
"Our efforts are there, we have a strong police presence — unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at any given time".
According to Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode, the city needs to continue enhancing public safety, but most importantly, maintain it as the community grows.
"I share the worry with residents," she said. There’s just no words for what happened in a park at one o’clock in the afternoon.
To have this type of boldness by an offender to do such a violent attack during the day in such a public place really speaks to, I think, a different level of crime.
Gill’s attacker is described as a slim man in his early 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a dark complexion. At the time of the incident he was wearing a dark hoodie under a red jacket, and black sweatpants with a red stripe down the side.
Police urged people to be aware of their surroundings, walk with a friend and not carry valuables.