A heavily bleeding man who walked into the Waves Coffee House on Columbia Street early this morning has become New Westminster’s fifth homicide victim of 2021.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is now investigating the homicide, which occurred around 6:30 a.m.
“Just after 6:30 this morning, a male walked into the Waves Coffee House on Columbia Street. He was bleeding heavily,” said NWPD spokesperson Sgt. Sanjay Kumar. “The Waves Coffee House staff called the New Westminster Police Department. Our members arrived on scene, along with the fire department paramedics. Life-saving intervention attempts were attempted on this male. He was transported to Royal Columbian Hospital, but has since succumbed to his injuries.”
As of noon on Friday, the victim had not been identified.
“We are still working with homicide investigators to determine who the victim is and then notify the next of kin,” Kumar said.
Police have not revealed the nature of the crime.
“I can’t get into the nature of what happened to this individual specifically,” Kumar said. “I can tell you he was bleeding heavily and was suffering life-threatening injuries.”
IHIT has assumed conduct of this investigation and will be working in partnership with the NWPD’s major crime unit to gather evidence and determine a motive.
IHIT investigators are requesting assistance from the public and are seeking witnesses who may have seen or overheard an altercation. Police are also asking anyone with residential or commercial video footage or dash cam videos to come forward.
Kumar said police are trying to identify a suspect or suspects and to determine a motive for the killing.
“Our investigators are out right now – they are talking to business owners, they are talking to witnesses in the area,” he said. “We are appealing to anyone with dash cam footage, anyone that might have seen anything or heard an altercation to please call our investigators or the IHIT tip line.”
At a media briefing on Friday morning, Kumar said investigators are reviewing CCTV footage from the area.
“We understand there were witnesses to this incident and may be distressed by what they saw,” Kumar said. “We encourage anyone who may have been affected by this morning’s incident to reach out to our Victim Assistance Unit.”
Anyone with information about this investigation can call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448). The NWPD’s Victim Assistance Unit can be reached at 604-529-2525.
According to the NWPD, investigators don’t currently believe this homicide is linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.
As police investigated the homicide, a normally busy section of downtown New West was behind yellow caution tape.
Initially, police closed off the area from Sixth to Eighth streets and Clarkson to Front streets. Front Street has since reopened, and police hope to reopen Columbia Street as soon as possible.
“We don’t know where the incident was. We are trying to determine that right now,” Kumar said. “We know he walked into the Waves Coffee House. But until we can determine where the incident was, we want to keep that scene large in case there is evidence in the area.”
Kumar said police understand the frustration of business owners and will try to reopen the streets as soon as possible so businesses can reopen.
“As for all files, we initially extend our scene just to make sure that we haven’t missed anything,” he explained. “Again, we don’t know which way our suspects went – if they were in vehicles, if there is more than one. So we want to keep a large scene until we can narrow down what happened.”
The homicide comes at a time when many downtown residents and businesses are voicing concerns about safety in the neighbourhood.
“I can tell you in the last month our chief did meet with the residents’ association. Our crime reduction unit is also out here. Their primary mandate is to identify problematic areas, and work with the city to identify those areas and apprehend people with outstanding warrants,” Kumar told the Record. “We don’t know if this was a vulnerable person right now at this time. We are still trying to determine that. We are working with businesses and witnesses to try and determine what happened here today.”