B.C. man convicted of racist knife attack facing new charges

Click to play video: 'New charges for man with lengthy criminal record'
New charges for man with lengthy criminal record
A man with a lengthy criminal record, including an attack in Vancouver a judge ruled was race-related, is facing a list of new charges. Kristen Robinson reports – Jul 4, 2024

A B.C. man who randomly attacked an immigrant from East Africa in a hate-motivated crime caught on camera two years ago is in trouble with the law again.

Willy Kabayabaya, a father of three who came to Canada from Burundi in 2012, was talking on his phone outside a building near Vancouver’s Victory Square on May 12, 2022, when a stranger approached him and began hurling racial slurs and threatening his life, before pulling out a knife.

Kabayabaya said he managed to grab the weapon and fight off his assailant, who he recently learned is out of jail and facing new charges.

“I got the message, it really upset me,” Kabayabaya told Global News in an interview on Thursday.

“Someone who was going to kill me has been released.”

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Click to play video: 'Global News obtains video of racist attack'
Global News obtains video of racist attack

Shane Arin McKenzie, 26, is accused of breaking and entering and possessing stolen property over $5,000 – a vehicle – in Port Coquitlam on May 22.

He is also charged with impaired driving, dangerous driving, possessing stolen property – another vehicle — and breaching his probation by possessing a knife in Coquitlam on May 23.

“That means, like, me and my family, you never know, were not safe again,” said Kabayabaya.

Last August, McKenzie was convicted of assaulting Kabayabaya with a weapon.

Vancouver police said the judge concluded the only motive for the attack was the colour of the victim’s skin.

With credit for 90 days of time already spent in custody, McKenzie was sentenced to nine months in jail followed by 12 months of probation.

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“The judge (said) you are going to jail today and after I hope you can go to a recovery place that can support you, you can become a normal person,” recalled Kabayabaya. “But right now, it’s like a different story now.”

After his arrest on the new unrelated charges, McKenzie was released from custody on June 12 and ordered to abide by eight conditions including residing at a facility operated by Pathway to Freedom Recovery Society, and not occupying the driver’s seat of any motor vehicle.

In court documents obtained by Global News, McKenzie said he lives in Maple Ridge but lists no fixed address.

Kabayabaya believes the justice system is focused on supporting offenders and not victims.

Click to play video: 'Victim of Vancouver hate crime speaks to Global News'
Victim of Vancouver hate crime speaks to Global News

He has written to Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan and also met with B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma last December.

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Kwan’s office told Global News the MP has brought Mr. Kabayabaya’s concerns regarding victim services to the B.C. Attorney General and Solicitor General’s attention, and said it was told the province would respond to Kabayabaya directly.

Global News has reached out to the B.C. Attorney General’s ministry for a response.

Vancouver City Coun. Pete Fry said restorative justice might be an opportunity to address some of the root causes in this particular case – including racism and attacking someone because he is Black.

“The system doesn’t work all the time but certainly it can work and I want Willy to know that I’m here for him,” Fry told Global News.

On July 2, the province’s Victim Safety Unit advised Kabayabaya that his attacker was in jail on an unrelated matter, and that he would be notified when they were released from custody.

McKenzie has a bail hearing scheduled for July 10 in Port Coquitlam.

“McKenzie, they say, is going to be released again,” said Kabayabaya. “How are people going to be safe if McKenzie is back again, and what about me, the victim?”

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