ABBOTSFORD Police are urging parents and families to cooperate with them to end an ongoing conflict between two South Asian groups of males aged 15-25 in Abbotsford that has caused massive damage to homes and vehicles and that could result in serious injuries sooner or later.
Since May 11, there have been over 25 reported incidents involving conflict between two groups of youths and young adults in the area of West Abbotsford. Thousands of dollars damage has been done to homes and vehicles in a dispute involving males aged 15 to 25. The majority of persons involved are South Asian.
Constable Ian MacDonald told The VOICE on Monday that there is, however, no gang involvement.
He said: “We have recommended assault charges against two young men but otherwise we are largely without cooperation.”
He said Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich has reached out to two gurdwaras to help in diffusing the situation. He sent the gurdwaras’ leaders a letter “making them aware of what we were doing through the media in the form of a press release and giving them a little bit of background on what is going on and asking them for their assistance as well,” said MacDonald.
Although the bulk of the incidents have involved property damage, the Abbotsford Police Department is extremely concerned that the continuing conflict will result in serious injuries to people directly involved in the dispute and / or their friends and families.
These incidents have predominantly taken place late at night and it appears that the conflict involves two groups comprised of 20 or more associates. There have been a small number of actual face-to-face confrontations between members of each group.
However, most of the activity to date has involved damage to homes or vehicles connected in some way to participants in the conflict. This includes property belonging to family and friends. It also appears that there is a pattern of incidents and retaliations over this two-month period.
ON Wednesday, there was a welcome development when a father and his 19-year-old son contacted police about two incidents and even invited a South Asian TV show team to talk about what had happened that day.
MacDonald told The VOICE that a group of South Asian males showed up at the son’s workplace in a strip mall on South Fraser Way. There was “a bit of a verbal back and forth … and at least a bit of pushing and shoving.” Ultimately, the store’s manager phoned police and the group of men took off.
Police believe that two men from that group then drove to the teenager’s house and got into a verbal confrontation with his dad who subsequently phoned police.
MacDonald told me that police started an investigation into the two incidents and although they haven’t conclusively linked them to the other events over the past two months, they certainly have some of those earmarks of them.
MacDonald added: “But one thing that is dramatically different from what I was saying earlier in the week – here is an example of a father and even a young man who are willing to provide information to police. Dad was extremely cooperative; he’s extremely concerned about what was going on.”
He noted: “To that end, I think part of our challenge to the people involved and to parents was to be forthright with police, to phone us in the first incidence and then to be willing to share information.”
So Wednesday’s development in this regard was a positive step: phoning police and being forthright with them.
POLICE say the ongoing conflict has become a significant public safety issue for Abbotsford. The Major Crime Unit of the Abbotsford Police Department is leading an investigation into the conflict. Anyone with information should contact the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225, text them at 222973 (abbypd) or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
MacDonald said: “We also remind citizens of the importance of reporting suspicious activity, which could be connected to this conflict, to the APD immediately.”
BY RATTAN MALL