Vancouver police say they responded to 60 separate assaults over the family day weekend, the first weekend in British Columbia dropped COVID-19 restrictions on events and gatherings.
“They appear to be 60 individual assault cases, and roughly a third of those we believe to be random in nature or unprovoked in nature,” Vancouver police Sgt. Steve Addison told Global News.
Vancouver police have been raising concerns about an uptick in so-called stranger assaults for months, and in October said the city was averaging four per day.
One of the assaults over the weekend that Addison described as “incredibly disturbing” involved a couple walking home from Andy Livingston Park near the International Village mall.
“A man walked up from behind and sucker punched one of the people in the head,” Addison said.
The attacker did not take anything from the victim, Addison said. The man was left with a sore head, but was luckily not seriously injured, he added.
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Many of the assaults took place in northern areas of the city, including the West End, Granville Entertainment District, Downtown Eastside and East Vancouver, according to police.
“Someone was just sitting on a bench (in Thornton Park), a person came along and tried to steal their backpack there was a struggle for the backpack and the person was punched repeatedly,” Addison said.
“We had a doorman at a restaurant on Hastings Street that told a customer he had to wear a mask before the customer could come in. The doorman was sucker punched, fell to the ground, knocked unconscious.”
Addison said police have made arrests or identified suspects in some of the cases, but investigations remain open for many others.