A 15 year old is dead and a 14 year old is at the centre of a homicide investigation after a fight between two groups of boys at a quiet Vancouver park on the weekend that has shaken the city.
Vancouver police appealed for more witnesses to come forward Monday as they continued their homicide investigation into the chaotic scene they responded to early Saturday afternoon at Almond Park in the city’s wealthy Dunbar neighbourhood. Two groups of teens got into a fight that ended with one allegedly stabbing another and the victim being rushed to the local children’s hospital, where he died Sunday after undergoing surgery for a stab wound to the chest, according to Sergeant Steve Addison.
Counsellors will be active at different schools as classes resume Tuesday to help students process an incident he said “will reach out throughout the school district.”
Sgt. Addison would not comment on why police believe the boys gathered, how many were involved, the ages of the participants or what schools they attend. Investigators believe the two groups “were known to each other” but that there is no evidence that the violence is related to Metro Vancouver’s long-running gang conflict, which led to a 14 year old being gunned down in Surrey at the end of December.
“We do not believe that there is an ongoing imminent risk to anybody else in the community and I wouldn’t hesitate to take my own family out to that park,” Sgt. Addison told reporters Monday. “Anybody who lives in that community, I would encourage to do the same.”
The teen suspect, who was arrested nearby shortly after police arrived at the park, was charged with possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. Sgt. Addison said homicide investigators are still gathering evidence and consulting with the Crown, which could approve more criminal charges against the boy.
Dan McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service, confirmed late Monday afternoon that the suspect has been released from jail and is due back in court a month from now.
The Globe and Mail is not naming either the suspect or the victim – who hail from opposite sides of the city – because of privacy concerns arising from the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which forbids publishing the name of a minor if it identifies them as victim of a crime committed by another young person.
An online fundraiser has been started for the 15-year-old boy’s family and has already received close to $20,000 in donations. Many have shared their messages of heartbreak over his death. Some of the messages from his friends and their families describe the boy as an energetic young soul full of humour.
Education Minster Jennifer Whiteside offered her condolences to the family of the student who was killed.
The Vancouver School District released a statement said the region was saddened and shaken by the weekend incident.
“Support including counsellors is available to schools impacted by this news, including for staff today. Support will continue to be available as needed.”
With a report from The Canadian Press
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