VANCOUVER Police Department officers responded to dozens of downtown emergencies over the weekend, as unseasonably warm weather drew tens of thousands to city streets and public parks.
“Our officers were stretched thin throughout the weekend as they responded to multiple 9-1-1 emergencies and COVID-19 rule-breakers throughout the city,” said Sgt. Steve Addison on Monday. “The downtown core and West End proved particularly challenging, as the summer weather drew thousands of Vancouver residents to public parks and beaches, while attracted large crowds from other parts of Metro Vancouver.”
Police had anticipated the busy weekend, and deployed of extra officers to deal with crowds in Gastown, Yaletown, Granville Street, and English Bay. Still, officers faced a number of challenges in responding to the extra calls, which included the city’s fifth homicide of 2021.
Other incidents of note:
- Eight separate protest groups held rallies to express their views, including the Extinction Rebellion Walk to the Salish Sea, which occurred on Friday. VPD officers escorted the group for several hours as it walked from Canada Place to Richmond. Officers kept the group safe by blocking traffic and providing water to Elders who were overcome by heat.
- A distraught teenager climbed the suicide barrier on the Burrard Bridge Saturday and threatened to jump. A VPD patrol officer spotted him before he got to the top of the fence, grabbed him, and held him in a bear hug until other officers arrived. The teen was taken to hospital and certified under the Mental Health Act.
- A domestic violence victim called 9-1-1 Saturday night to report that her boyfriend had shot her multiple times with a BB gun and trashed her West End apartment before taking off. The suspect, who was also armed with a crossbow, fled before police arrived. Dozens of patrol officers searched the city for the suspect, who remains at large. Patrol officers worked with the victim to develop a plan to help keep her safe.
- Hundreds of people gathered on the beach at English Bay after sunset and staged an impromptu dance party on Saturday night. They flagrantly drank liquor, disregarded social distancing rules, and played loud music through an amplifier. Additional police officers were brought in from other areas of the city to disperse the crowd. Officers seized a large speaker that was being used to play music.
- A 28-year-old man from Surrey came to Vancouver with two friends to celebrate after he learned he had been called to the Bar Association. After drinking too much alcohol, the young lawyer started to fight with his friends and had to be held in a headlock on the hood of a parked car until officers arrived. Officers separated the three men, sent two of them home, and arrested the aspiring lawyer for breach of peace. He spent several hours in jail until he sobered up was no longer a threat to the public.
- A woman staying at a West End hotel called 9-1-1 for help after a man, who was not known to her, entered her room and began to berate her Saturday night. Fearful, the woman locked herself in her bathroom and stayed on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator until help arrived. Patrol officers responded in minutes and found an intoxicated man sitting on a chair in the hotel suite. The man, 54, was taken to jail for breaching the peace.
- VPD officers initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle associated to a gang member near the scene of Saturday’s homicide. The driver failed to stop and instead sped away, crashing the vehicle into the number of poles in Coal Harbour. Three people fled the crashed car and ran toward the seawall. More than a dozen police officers searched for the suspects, who remain outstanding. The investigation is ongoing, and charges are anticipated.
- A man with life-threatening stab wounds walked into the courtyard of a building near West Hastings and Broughton Street around 8:40 p.m. on Saturday and then collapsed. VPD officers immediately responded and provided care to the stabbing victim until paramedics arrived and transported the man to hospital, where he remains with serious injuries. The investigation is ongoing, and detectives are working to determine whether the incident is connected to the homicide that occurred a block away around the same time.
- Two people were taken to hospital after five vehicles collided on Oak Street, near Park Drive, on Saturday afternoon. A driver claimed his steering wheel locked and his brakes failed, causing him to steer into oncoming traffic, where he struck another car then collided with a light pole. The accident caused gridlock on the busy street, as multiple patrol officers and VPD’s Collision Investigation Unit investigated. The injuries are not life threatening, and the incident remains under investigation.
- A 44-year-old man was riding his electric scooter on the Stanley Park seawall shortly before midnight on Sunday when he collided with a coyote, fell from his bike, and injured his collarbone. While laying injured on the ground, two coyotes began tugging at the man’s jacket and clothes. The injured man punched one of the animals, then flagged over a passerby to call 9-1-1. VPD officers responded and worked with Park Rangers and BC Ambulance Service to help the injured cyclist.
- “Public safety is our number one priority. We will do everything we can to prevent crimes from happening, and solve them when they do,” said Addison. “While we appreciate everyone wants to get outside and enjoy the warm, spring weather, we need people to exercise good judgement during the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to allow first responders to quickly respond to emergencies.”