22 stranger assaults reported in Vancouver on Family Day weekend

Feb 23 2022, 5:11 pm

Vancouver police say they’re investigating 60 assaults that occurred over the Family Day long weekend, adding that 22 of them are possible stranger assaults.

“This is an unusual number of assaults in one weekend, and the level of violence is concerning,” Sgt. Steve Addison told Daily Hive.

He doubts there’s “one specific reason why this happened on the weekend.” The most likely culprit, though, is the easing of COVID-19 public health restrictions, which brought crowds of visitors into the city.

“We expected this influx of people and we know that whenever large numbers of people enter the city, and particularly the entertainment districts, we do see more conflict and violence,” Addison said.

The force defines an “unprovoked stranger assault” as an incident when the assailant has no previous relationship with the victim, there’s a brief initial interaction lasting up to 15 seconds, and the incident was unreasonable given the circumstances.

In a series of tweets sent Tuesday, the VPD gave details about a few attacks that happened over the weekend.

On Friday afternoon, a woman went into a grocery store on Richards Street that she had previously been banned from. When the manager asked her to leave, she allegedly threw a pot at him. She came back later that day and threatened to pepper spray him.

Police found the woman and she has been charged.

Later that same day over on Seymour Street, a food delivery driver allegedly punched a hotel concierge in the face who asked him to put on a mask.

Early Saturday morning, two men got into an argument near Smithe and Granville streets. The altercation turned into a fistfight, and one man allegedly stabbed the other multiple times. The stab victim was taken to hospital, and the assailant was arrested.

Also on Saturday morning, two men followed a third man as he exited a bus near Victoria Drive and East 39th Avenue. The two men allegedly assaulted the third man.

That same day, a man was found unconscious by a passerby in a laneway near Davie Street in the West End. He’d been beaten up, and someone had stolen his backpack and money. He was taken to hospital, but it’s not known who attacked him.

On Saturday night, a guest at the West Hastings hotel allegedly punched a staff member in the face when he asked him to leave. The man also became confrontational with others in the lobby, police said. When officers arrived on scene, the man allegedly resisted arrest. He was taken into custody and charged with assault.

These latest stranger assaults are part of a disturbing trend that Vancouverites have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2021, Vancouver police said approximately four people per day are randomly attacked in the city.

“We always caution against relying too heavily on crime statistics alone, as they only tell part of the story and we recognize that there continues to be a significant amount of un-reported violent crime throughout the city,” Addison said.

Typically Vancouver sees approximately 12 assaults on any given day. To see 60 in a three-day period is unusual and concerning, Addison said.

Police are reminding anyone who sees an assault to call 911.

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