The leader of a controversial vigilante group facing two separate lawsuits says there is a warrant out for his arrest after a violent confrontation with a sting target.
Surrey Creep Catcher founder Ryan Laforge said RCMP issued a warrant for his arrest after the target of its latest sting was taken down by several members in Surrey's Central City Mall Wednesday night.
The group says the man in the video came to meet a seven-year-old girl. The end of the 13 minute clip, posted to Facebook, shows the target subject being handcuffed by a female RCMP officer, who tells the man “you are being detained.”
It was the third video published this week to show the group getting physical.
Still, Laforge defends his tactics.
"I'll go to jail any day for detaining a guy who comes to meet a 'sexy' 7-year-old. It's how we do," Laforge wrote on his Facebook page.
Laforge says the Creep Catchers are going to "step up" their game and obtain security licenses and a legal team.
A spokesperson for the Surrey RCMP said it was not able to confirm the arrest warrant against Laforge.
Kash Heed, the former chief constable of the West Vancouver Police Department and one-time B.C. solicitor general, was critical of Mounties' decision not to speak publicly about Creep Catchers.
"They've kind of taken… what I call a 'turtle approach' – not talk about it and hope it goes away. But I think that is a failed PR response," he said.
Heed said the takedowns appear to be getting "more and more aggressive," especially when it comes to Laforge's methods.
"His behaviour has escalated to a point in the latest one where I have to really question whether he stepped over the line and that is excessive force."
Criminologist Rob Gordon says legal trouble may not be far off for the group, which is already being sued by two separate people for defamation and is facing a separate probe by the privacy commissioner.
"Someone is going to get hurt very soon," Gordon told CTV News.
"There are potential criminal proceedings that can be taken against them for assault."
Even some who say they support the group are concerned about tactics.
On its Facebook page, one person wrote: "I love what you're doing but you need to pull yourself together and not catch charges."
Surrey's acting mayor, Mike Starchuk, said he's concerned that a bystander may end up injured if the stings turn violent.
"My concern is somebody could be walking by, see one man attacking another man that's there, and then jump into the fray and then make it worse," Starchuk said Wednesday.
"If I was walking by, I'd question if this was an act of violence or someone doing a citizen's arrest."
With reports from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott and Shannon Paterson