VANCOUVER Police are temporarily increasing the number of officers in the Downtown Eastside, following nearly a week of gun violence that injured two men and left people in surrounding neighourhoods shaken.
The decision comes after a 24-year-old man was shot on Thursday morning while riding his bike near East Hastings Street, and in the midst of a four-day span in which VPD officers have recovered 14 real and replica firearms from the neighbourhood.
“The number of guns currently in the Downtown Eastside is alarming, and we’re worried for the safety of people who live and work in the area,” said Sgt. Steve Addison on Thursday. “Besides putting extra officers on the street, our organized crime experts and major crime investigators are working to determine why we’re seeing such an increase in guns in the area.”
VPD officers found the latest shooting victim this morning near East Hastings and Carrall Street, after being called to an SRO hotel by BC Ambulance Service. Investigators believe the victim was shot around 5 a.m. while riding a bike near the Downtown Eastside. The man was able to make his way back home before calling 9-1-1.
The incident comes less than four days after a man was shot multiple times near Main and Hastings, in what police believe was a targeted attack that originated near the encampment on East Hastings Street.
Frontline officers conducting proactive enforcement in the Downtown Eastside have made a number of arrests since Sunday’s shooting. The additional officers are part of a dedicated quick-response team that normally moves around the city. They’ll assist by conducting additional patrols on East Hastings Street, in Chinatown, and throughout Gastown to deter crime and respond to in-progress violence.
“Residents of the Downtown Eastside already face so many hardships, and they shouldn’t have to worry that someone with a gun, a machete, or bear spray is going to make their lives more difficult,” said Addison. “Our only goal by adding more officers is to restore a sense of safety in the community and to target the law-breakers who are putting people at risk.”
Police encourage anyone who believes their safety is in immediate danger, or anyone with information about a violent crime in progress, to call 9-1-1.