Riot hooligan hunters send 3,500 emails to Vancouver cops
VANCOUVER – Hooligan hunters have sent Vancouver Police 3,500 emails relating to the identification of rioters who looted stores, beat up people and trashed businesses and police cars.
While the cops appreciate the tips, they are also warning people not to become vigilantes and not to take direct action against those who they think participated.
At the same time, Vancouver’s normally soft-spoken police chief Jim Chu is taking a hard line on the thugs.
“If you come in voluntarily you can do so discreetly and at a time that is convenient for you,” Chu said to the rioters. “If you wait until we find you – and we will find you – we will arrest you in a public manner suitable to the public crimes you have committed.”
Police are also learning that while the riot was orchestrated by some known criminal elements including anarchists, hundreds of other who have no past record are being identified as being involved in the mayhem.
“The investigation has revealed more details about the background of the rioters that were not known in the early hours following the riot,” said Chu.
“Based on the best information we had the following morning, we stated that the instigators among the mob were ‘criminals, anarchists and thugs who came to town bent on destruction and mayhem’ regardless of the outcome of the game,” he said.
“While we are still standing by that observation about the instigators, we are learning that most of the people that joined in the riot and that have now been charged represent a wider spectrum of young people, many of whom do not have criminal records.”
“Because the makeup of the crowd involves suspects from many jurisdictions and communities across the province, the new Integrated Riot Investigation team will be comprised of investigators from different Lower Mainland municipal departments, along with the RCMP, who all played a crucial role in helping to quell the riot in half the time it took to get the 1994 riot under control.”
“The RCMP and other municipal agencies are eager to contribute resources to help the VPD in this integrated investigation,” said Asst. Commissioner Craig Callens. “The job before us is massive but we will not stand down until we are satisfied that those responsible have been arrested and charged.”
As of early today, a total of 117 people have been arrested. Many of these were arrested on Wednesday night for breach of peace. While investigators pour over thousands of videos and tips, evidence is being collected and reports written in anticipation of many more arrests and charges over the coming weeks.
Edgar Ricardo Garcia, 20, of Burnaby has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with an incident where two men were stabbed in the 700 block of Hornby Street.
Joshua Lyle Evans, 27, of Calgary has been charged with possessing a weapon dangerous to the public peace in connection with the same incident.
Charges have been requested against six other men for various offenses and are currently awaiting approval by Crown Counsel.
So far about a dozen people have turned themselves in to the VPD and three to other police agencies.
The mass of information contained in social media is posing unique opportunities and challenges for investigators.
“The sheer volume and speed of the information is overwhelming,” said VPD Sergeant Dale Weidman.
“In a routine case we have a clear crime and then take steps to identify the suspect and compile evidence. In these cases, we have names of suspects before we know exactly what they did and where they did it. Obtaining that information quickly is the challenge as we work backwards from the end point to the beginning.”
The Integrated Riot Investigative Unit will swell to more than three dozen officers and civilian analysts over the next few days.
“We want to thank everyone for their support and their information,” said Chief Chu. “We may not be able to respond to everyone as quickly as we would prefer but we are committed to getting back to every single person who contacts us as soon as we can. In the meantime, I would ask everyone to not destroy any evidence they may have already sent us.”
The Stats so far:
Riot Investigation Update:
Vancouver Police have received approximately 3500 emails, including tips, from the public at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of these emails include:
• 53 with videos attached
• 676 with links to YouTube
• 708 with images attached
• 1011 with hyperlinks to other social media sites other than YouTube (mostly Facebook)
• 344 emails contain only text
• 280 Crime Stoppers tips received
• 900 additional emails have been received by the VPD Public Affairs Section. These will be reviewed for content and those with tips or information will be forwarded to email@example.com.
To date, twelve people have turned themselves in to Vancouver Police and three others to police in outside jurisdictions.
A total of 117 people have been arrested for a variety of offences, including breach of the peace, public intoxication, breach of probation, assault, mischief, theft, possession of stolen property and obstructing a peace officer.
Many charges are pending, however, formal charges have been recommended in the following cases:
• Twenty year-old Edgar Ricardo Garcia of Burnaby is charged with aggravated assault stemming from an incident where two men were stabbed in the 700 block of Hornby Street on June 15.
• Twenty-seven year-old Joshua Lyle Evans of Calgary is charged with possessing a weapon dangerous to the public peace. This stems from the same incident in the 700 block of Hornby Street.
• A 21 year old man from Ladner with no previous criminal convictions is facing charges of mischief and participation in a riot. He is alleged to have broken a rear tail light and rear window of a green pick-up truck parked in the 300 block of West Georgia Street.
• A 19 year old man from Surrey, with no previous criminal convictions, is facing charges of break and enter, theft and participation in a riot, stemming from an incident in the 700 block of West Georgia Street. It is alleged that he entered the Hudson’s Bay Company and stole a Coach purse.
• A 17 year old youth from Maple Ridge with no previous criminal convictions is facing charges of participation in a riot and of arson for allegedly lighting a police car on fire in the 100 block of West Georgia.
• An 18 year old man from Delta with no previous criminal convictions is facing a charge of mischief and participating in a riot for allegedly kicking a hole through the window of the Budget Rental Car office located in the 400 block of West Georgia.
• A 20 year old man from Maple Ridge with no previous criminal convictions is facing charges of mischief and participating in a riot after allegedly breaking a window of the Bank of Montreal located at Homer and West Georgia.
• A 22 year old man from Burnaby, with no previous criminal convictions is facing charges of assaulting a peace officer, break and enter, mischief and participation in a riot stemming from an incident at Library Square where he allegedly threw a water bottle at the police, broke a window and then entered a building.