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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Christopher Preston, the 39-year-old operator of Rain Grill and Bar, was critically injured in the blast


05:24 |



Christopher Preston, the 39-year-old operator of Rain Grill and Bar, was critically injured in the blast about 11:15 p.m. Sunday. It was the third suspicious fire at his restaurant in 18 months. man is fighting for his life after a late-night explosion at an Abbotsford restaurant frequented by gangsters.In all three cases, the restaurant was closed for the day.Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said Sunday’s fire is suspected of being deliberately set, but investigators are not ruling anything out at this stage.“Our investigative theory has been that something gas-related or electrical-related went wrong in the building ...,” MacDonald said. “We are definitely treating it as suspicious. We suspect it is arson.”
Neil Payne, who owns commercial trucks with Preston, said his childhood friend never knew how or why the earlier fires were set.
“There is no real proof of someone targeting him because they never targeted his other company,” Payne said of their trucking business. “None of the trucks has ever been touched. Or the office for the trucks has ever been touched. It was always the restaurant.”The explosion was so intense that houses shook for blocks, windows were shattered across the street and a fridge door from inside Rain “actually blew off and went through a neighbouring business,” MacDonald said.“The fact that other people weren’t hurt is actually incredible,” he said.Two police officers were parked nearby when the building exploded and were on the scene within seconds. They were able to talk to Preston before he slipped into unconsciousness.“We had two cars writing their reports across the street when this happened. So they were there in five seconds,” MacDonald said. “They are going to have to go through some critical incident counselling because it was like something you would see from a horror movie. Pieces of this guy were falling off.”MacDonald said the other two fires at Rain, on Nov. 2 and Dec. 28, 2008 — remain under investigation.“Neither of those two files were closed, but they weren’t resolved with charges,” MacDonald said.
“Obviously with this incident, those two files are going to be brought back to life ... We have some working theories that resulted from the first two fires, but I can’t put those on the table at this point.”The restaurant has had gang clientele, though MacDonald said it is impossible to know why gangsters regularly chose Rain, which was previously called LAX.In July 2008, the restaurant was the scene of a wake for slain United Nations gangster Elliott (Taco) Castaneda. The Integrated Gang Task Force attended and seized two guns from Castaneda mourners.“You never really know what the connections are behind the scenes,” MacDonald said. “We are aware of where there have been people who are gang-associated going to this restaurant.”
But he also said Preston “did not have an extensive history with us.”
Payne said gangsters frequent all the restaurants


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