May long weekend marked by violent crimes in Vancouver

Vancouver police were kept busy over the long weekend responding to a number of violent crimes being reported throughout the city.

That included the city’s fifth homicide, which claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. It happened in the early hours of Monday morning near The Gallery nightclub in the Marpole neighbourhood.

A witness told CTV News a young man ran from the scene of a fight involving multiple people with a stab wound in his neck. Paramedics would tend to him at the scene but he later died in hospital.

Early Sunday morning, a street fight was caught on video involving several people near Howe and Davie streets, a block from the Granville entertainment district. In the video, someone is seen getting kicked several times while laying defenseless on the ground. Vancouver police say none of the victims co-operated with investigators.

“Really appalled, but not surprising,” said John Clerides, after watching the brawl caught on camera. The longtime business owner in Vancouver’s West End says violence on the streets is only getting worse.

Clerides points to repeat offenders, who, in his opinion, go unpunished for their crimes too often.

“(The courts should be) prosecuting them. And make it known that public safety is the number one concern,” he said.

Earlier this month, the B.C. government said it would launch an independent, short-term study into repeat criminal offenders in the province, which will guide plans to curb chronic crime and random attacks.

Vancouver city council also held a special meeting on public safety two weeks ago, giving some residents the opportunity to share their concerns with councillors and the mayor.

“What we did hear loud and clear is we need (jail) sentences for these individuals, and we need to advocate for the gaps in mental health and treatment services,” said Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung.

“People are falling through the cracks, and we’re seeing it play out on our streets.”

Several hours before the street fight, around 11:30 on Saturday night, police say three teenage girls assaulted, pepper sprayed, and robbed a 15-year-old girl at a park near Richards and Smithe streets. The victim notified a parent who then alerted the police. No arrests have been made.

In a similar incident on Friday, an 87-year-old man was bear sprayed in Chinatown, near East Pender and Columbia streets, in what police call a random attack, possibly linked the anti-Asian hate. The suspect, who has not been identified, allegedly hurled racial slurs before assaulting the senior of Asian descent.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart has previously said he feels the city is safe, despite the VPD sounding the alarm over a spike in random assaults and hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are feeling concerned and fearful about walking in their neighbourhoods,” said Kirby-Yung. “This is something I take seriously and I think council needs to take seriously. It’s not helpful when you have a mayor who says he feels safe in the city.”

CTV News has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.