The suspect in a random stabbing that injured three at a Chinatown festival on Sunday is a psychiatric patient who had left his facility on a day pass, according to Vancouver police.
The 64-year-old, who has been identified as Blair Evan Donnelly, is not a resident of Vancouver, but a patient at a forensic psychiatric centre somewhere in the Lower Mainland, Chief Const. Adam Palmer said at a Monday press conference.
He said the man has had contact with police in the past but not in Vancouver.
Police confirmed in a tweet Monday afternoon that Donnelly has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault.
Global News has learned that in 2008, Donnelly was detained at Colony Farm in Port Coquitlam, a well-known forensic psychiatric hospital, when he was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder for the November 2006 stabbing death of his 16-year-old daughter in Kitimat.
A motive for the attack, which took place around 6 p.m., remains unclear, Palmer added.
“The actions of a single person have shocked people — this apparent random act of violence,” he said.
The three people wounded at the Light Up Chinatown festival suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Palmer said the victims are a man and a woman in their early 60s, who are married, and a woman in her early 20s. All three were taken to the hospital for treatment.
All three victims are Asian, Palmer added.
He said the suspect immediately left the area after the attack, but was arrested a short time later a few blocks away in the Downtown Eastside.
“Light up Chinatown, a festival created to help revitalize and preserve one of our city’s oldest and most cherished neighborhoods, a place that has already shown incredible and has always shown incredible resiliency to overcome significant challenges,” Palmer said, “three people were stabbed and injured by a complete stranger.”
“Our city stands shoulder to shoulder with Light up Chinatown!, our Chinese community and all those who participated today,” Sim shared in a statement Sunday night.
“We will not allow this senseless act of violence to disrupt celebrations of all that makes our city great, and we will work each and every day to ensure Vancouver is a place where people can live, work and thrive in a safe environment.”
Carol Lee, chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, said Monday that the incident that transpired was “utterly devastating and heartbreaking.
“After putting on a very successful Light Up Chinatown festival, this is not how we thought it would end,” she said. “We appreciate the tens of thousands of people who came out to show support for Chinatown. The festival brought a real sense of hope and optimism to the neighborhood and to the many businesses that call it home.”
Lee added that the stabbing incident is a reminder of why Chinatown needs to continue to push for funding and safety measures.
— with files from Kareem Gouda
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