A 28-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder and police are looking for a motive after a stabbing attack at a public library in North Vancouver left one woman dead and six others injured.
Witnesses and police described a chaotic situation on Saturday around the normally quiet Lynn Valley Library, located in a small mall in this community near Vancouver. Police found multiple victims inside suffering from stab wounds.
The identity of the woman who died has not been released but police said she was in her 20s. Six others were taken to hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said Yannick Bandaogo was charged on Sunday and is in custody. He went through surgery for self-inflicted wounds.
”We’re still kind of in the dark with respect to motive,” Sergeant Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said in an interview. Sgt. Jang said investigators are looking into his background.
On Saturday, Sgt. Jang told a news conference the suspect has had interactions with police in the past and a criminal record. However court services show he does not have a criminal record in British Columbia.
On Sunday, a steady stream of visitors placed hundreds of bouquets of flowers, candles and handmade cards at a makeshift memorial outside the library. “Lynn Valley strong,” read a large yellow banner. Police cars and yellow police tape remained on scene.
Mayor Mike Little of the District of North Vancouver, where the library is located, laid a wreath and paid his respects, along with Mayor Linda Buchanan of the City of North Vancouver and Mayor Mary-Ann Booth of the District of West Vancouver.
Mr. Little said the community is deeply shocked by the event and that it would take some time to make the space feel safe again.
“Lynn Valley’s already had such a rough year with COVID-19; we’re two blocks from where the COVID centre was when it came to Canada,” he said, in reference to the Lynn Valley Care Centre that the coronavirus swept through last March, taking the first life in Canada from the disease.
“This community has already been through so much. It’s going to take some time to heal from this.”
Rylan Harvey, out shopping with his fiancée and mother on Saturday, said he watched as four people, their heads bandaged, were wheeled out of the library in stretchers.
Mr. Harvey, who grew up in the district and now works in banking, said the district is a “sleepy quiet” area overall. “It makes me kind of sick to think this happened so close to home.”
Susan Cathcart, who lives nearby in the Lynn Valley neighbourhood, witnessed the police takedown of the suspect. She said she was scared to see officers approach the man with guns drawn, but that they showed restraint in their response.
“It wasn’t violent,” she said in an interview on Sunday “He seemed to fall down and then maybe [intentionally harm himself]. But no one did anything to him.”
Cassie Brondgeest, communications co-ordinator for the District of North Vancouver, said, in a statement, the library had not had any previous notable security incidents and no security guards were present on Saturday.
Sarah Myskiw and her partner, who laid down a bouquet on Sunday, were also at the mall the day before, realizing through media reports hours later that they had just left as the attacks began.
“I’m definitely grateful that we weren’t in the middle of it,” she said. “I’m grateful that we had the timing that we did, but also very sad about what happened. I’ve lived in Lynn Valley my whole life so when the names are released I’m sure I’m going to know someone who was directly affected by it.”
Lisa Hedmark, who lives blocks away from the scene, wiped away tears on Sunday as she surveyed the growing memorial.
“This really, really has affected me hard,” she said. “This is such a small community. You have no idea where something like this is going to happen. It’s not always in those big spaces where you hear about the bombings and shootings. In these tiny communities it can happen, too.”
On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday: “To everyone affected by this violent incident in Lynn Valley, know that all Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.”
Jonathan Wilkinson, the MP for North Vancouver and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said he was “shaken” by the attack, and expressed how important the public library is to the community.
“This library has been a secure place for families to gather in the Lynn Valley community for years,” he said in a statement. “Until today, it was unimaginable that such a senseless act of violence could have occurred in the very heart of it.”
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