Vancouverites are expressing frustration and fear following a violent crime spree in the Fairview neighbourhood over the weekend.
Concerned residents of the neighbourhood have taken to social media following news that a man allegedly smashed windows, chased people and violently assaulted at least one woman on Saturday (Feb. 26).
Cole Stanley Martin, 38, is facing multiple charges after the series of attacks, which the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has described as a "40-minute crime spree."
The first incident occurred around noon when Martin, who may have been in a state of psychosis, was smashing glass at Oak Street and West Broadway near Vancouver General Hospital, according to a police press release. He went on to threaten or attack at least five people.
The VPD's victim services team is working with all of the victims identified so far to deal with the emotional trauma from the string of attacks. But Const. Tania Vistintin said there are likely other victims and witnesses that fled out of fear before officers arrived at the scene.
After the string of violent events, many locals have called on the city to reevaluate its current approach to crime, with many of them remarking that more enforcement officers, mental health workers, and further action are needed to rectify the issue.
In the Fairview Facebook Community Group on Facebook, Karen McRae asks, "How will they protect the citizens when there is a population explosion. I’m in Fairview where it is no longer safe to walk alone. Random assaults, car jacking, humans with addiction and mental health concerns.
"Instead of all the developers coming in, we should focus more on making safe neighbourhoods. Solving the opioid crisis, and putting more money into mental health care facilities. Oh sorry, they won’t get as much tax revenue. CoV should be ashamed of themselves. Yes we need affordable housing. But we need to clean up our own backyards first."
City councillor Melissa De Genova bullet-pointed a few of the incidents that allegedly took place during the 40-minute crime spree, noting that these types of incidents should not happen in Vancouver.
When in #Vancouver do you expect to have someone:— Melissa De Genova (@MelissaDeGenova) February 28, 2022
1️⃣Jump on your car & make shooting gestures❓
2️⃣Chase you, corner you and demand your phone❓
3️⃣Violently grab your hair and punch you in the head❓
Neither did these 5 WOMEN👇#VanPoli #VancouverIsDying https://t.co/D2FTfgYdHp
Numerous Vancouverites have also taken to Twitter to share their thoughts about the string of attacks. Several people ask what Mayor Kennedy Stewart, police and local government officials are doing in response.
One individual questioned why Martin was reportedly able to continue his violent spree for a staggering 40 minutes.
The crime situation in #Vancouver is truly out of control! Multiple women attacked and terrified in a 40 minute violent crime spree in #Fairview - time for more police, more mental health workers and more action! #Vanpoli #bcpoli https://t.co/ns8oM1I7Ic— BillTieleman (@BillTieleman) February 28, 2022
It’s clear that Vancouver‘s current approaches to crime and mental health aren’t working. The #BCGov needs to reopen facilities like Riverview and the CoV and @VancouverPD need to take an aggressive, broken windows, approach to policing. #vanpoli https://t.co/U1Oo7wdE4S— David Lough (@DavidLough) February 28, 2022
This is appalling and what is our Mayor and council doing about it? It’s not safe for any citizens in our city.— Joan McMaster (@JoanMcMaster1) February 28, 2022
Change is needed, things are getting worse— D Mann (@vanseahawk) February 28, 2022
This is not the Vancouver from few years ago. Maybe time to step up the game @CityofVancouver. No person should feel unsafe in any area of Vancouver at any time.— Mahsa Kia (@Mahsa_Kia) February 27, 2022
Gonna have to start carrying a weapon if this doesn’t stop.— Jen (@jestjenny) February 28, 2022
How does it take an hour for you to respond to a "spree"? Clearly, Vancouverites are on their own, should arm themselves, and fight back. The police have stood down, frightened, overwhelmed, and unfit for purpose. Shame.— Henri Lamarche (@HenriLamarche) February 27, 2022
Three Vancouver city councillors who are expected to align as a trio in the October municipal election are hosting a virtual forum on public safety Thursday to hear from residents concerned about crime in their neighbourhoods.
With files from Brendan Kergin and Mike Howell.