The mother of a teenager stabbed to death on a transit bus in Surrey, B.C., says she hopes her son’s death will bring change.
Holly Indridson said while she believes there needs to be more police and security on buses, the public also needs to be more aware of what to do.
“If you see these types of acts happening, don’t film them, call the police,” she said Tuesday.
She said teachers and other members of the public who see children with violent tendencies should refer them for help.
“There’s no reason people do these types of things,” she said of her son’s murder.
Indridson said her 17-year-old son, Ethan Bespflug, didn’t know the man who attacked him, but was acquainted with the woman who was with his alleged attacker.
Her plea comes as premiers from across the country are slated to meet with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Friday to discuss the recent spate of violence across Canada.
On Canadian transit specifically, violent attacks have happened over the last several weeks in Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Toronto.
Bespflug was stabbed last week not far from the King George SkyTrain station in Surrey, B.C.
Twenty-year-old Kaiden Mintenko of the neighbouring suburb of Burnaby has been charged with second-degree murder in the death.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said in a news conference Monday that investigators were still working to determine the exact nature of the relationship between the two males, but the attack wasn’t random.
They said Bespflug and Mintenko were known to each other “through a third party” and that investigators were working to determine a motive.
A spokesperson for the homicide investigations team said Tuesday he couldn’t comment on evidence collected or future investigative steps since the case is before the courts and under a publication ban.
Indridson said it feels good knowing someone is in custody after her son’s death.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” she said. “It doesn’t bring him back but at least there’s some justice that will happen.”
Indridson said she has received support from the community since Bespflug was killed.
“‘It’s the only thing really getting me through this time. It’s just with the support and keeping his memory alive, and showing who he was,” she said.
The issue of violence on public transit led to intense debate at the B.C. legislature following Bespflug’s death.
“It’s time for this government to recognize that their soft-on-crime policies, their revolving door of justice goes beyond the courtroom,” said Elenore Sturko, Opposition B.C. United mental health and addictions critic.
Sturko said many people in Metro Vancouver are afraid to use public transit, fearing violence.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the government is working with law enforcement agencies and others to increase police presence in and around transit systems.
He rejected Opposition statements in the legislature that some police officials have raised concerns about public safety on transit.
“Yes, it is safe to be on BC Transit and the police chief of BC Transit has said so, and I read out his statement in the House,” Farnworth said.
Dave Jones, BC Transit Police Chief, said in a statement that the system’s most recent statistics show crime rates have been declining.
“However, equally important, Transit Police acknowledges that the public’s perception of safety plays a big part in what we do,” Jones said.
“Many of the actions we are taking today, such as stepping up high-visibility patrols across the system, are being done to convey to passengers that there are resources available to assist them should they ever feel unsafe.”
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who chairs the Council of the Federation, said the premiers want to hear from the chiefs on Friday about public-safety risks and their perspectives on the need for federal criminal law and justice reform.
The statement from the premiers calls on the federal government to renew and enhance the Guns and Gang Violence Action Fund that supports provincial and territorial public-safety initiatives.
It says the meeting builds on the premiers’ commitment to strengthen Canada’s bail system to better protect the public, and create safer conditions for emergency responders.
The premiers have also called for “meaningful changes” to the Criminal Code and are urging the prime minister to quickly enact legislation to address their concerns, it says.
— With files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria