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Fatal stabbing near White Rock promenade under investigation: RCMP

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A homicide is under investigation in White Rock, B.C., marking the second stabbing near the waterfront promenade in a 48-hour period.

Police said they were called to Marine Drive between Cypress and Dolphin streets just before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday about a man with apparent stab wounds. While life-saving measures were given to the victim, he died on scene.

Investigators said a suspect has not been located, even though police "arrived on scene within minutes of the initial call."

The suspect is described as a Black man who is about 5'11". Police said he was seen wearing a hat and a grey hoodie at the time of the stabbing, and was last seen heading north from the promenade towards Marine Drive.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has taken conduct of the investigation and the area will be blocked off "for an undetermined amount of time," police said.

Tuesday's stabbing is the second in just two days. Police were called to the promenade on Sunday night at about 9 p.m. In that incident, a 28-year-old victim was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Few details have been provided about that incident, but police said they don't believe the victim and suspect knew each other, "or that there was any confrontation prior to the incident.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti with IHIT said police are still in the very early stages of their investigation and “working to determine exactly what happened.” Police said they could not confirm whether Tuesday’s stabbing was targeted or whether the two incidents are connected.

“We're still looking to speak to as many people as possible and build a complete picture of what happened here,” Pierotti said. “Homicides are complex. There's no simple homicides. Whether this stemmed from an incident that occurred a week before, a month before, or whether it stemmed from nothing at all, that's what we’re going to determine.”

A similar suspect description was provided for the two incidents, but Staff Sgt. Rob Dixon with White Rock RCMP said they're still "investigating to determine whether or not there is a conclusive link.”

“Above all, I want to extend our condolences to the family of the young victim impacted by the tragic events last night,” White Rock Mayor Megan Knight said at the news conference.

She said in light of the violent incidents, extra police officers have been deployed to patrol the waterfront area and their patrols will be increasing in frequency.

“We urge all residents to exercise caution and remain vigilant,” she said. “Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our citizens.”

Dixon acknowledged that the string of violence has undoubtedly raised concerns in the community, and emphasized that identifying the suspect and keeping the public safe is the detachment’s top priority.

“It's important to recognize the fact that while these are very shocking, tragic incidents, it's an abnormality,” he said at the news conference.

“I'm here all the time. I would be walking with my family as per normal. I would allow my mother to walk as per normal in the area,” he continued. “I would not change any of my own behavior.”

“I think it's always a good idea to exercise a certain degree of caution in these situations for sure, but I don't think that we're in a situation where people have to dramatically alter their lives.”

The victim of Tuesday’s fatal stabbing has not been identified publicly, but Pierotti said investigators have been in contact with his family.

One resident who has lived in the area for 13 years told CTV News Vancouver the "community's changed a lot," with more parties and bonfires in the area.

"We've never had this type of problem down here in White Rock and it's a shame," Brad Sakiyama said, adding people are scared. "It's been a little wild down here lately."

Knight said at the news conference that crime numbers have been going down in the city. “We've been very nice and comfortable here, so this has been a big shock to our community for sure,” she said.

White Rock city council directed staff to look into installing CCTV cameras last November, and a report is forthcoming.

“I've lived here for 45 years, so I was completely shocked when it first happened on Sunday night, and then again last night. So it’s terrifying when you think that something like this is going on in your neighborhood,” Knight said.

“This is when I leave it to the professionals. They know what they're doing, and we're going to run the city and we'll give them whatever support we can. If that's more boots on the ground, or cameras, or whatever it's going to be, we will support it.”

Pierotti urged anyone with dash camera or cell phone video to come forward, whether or not you think it actually captured anything.

“You never know what you may have driven past and not noticed that could help our investigation,” he said. “You never know what's gonna be in the background of a photo you took, or that thing that didn't seem suspicious to you may be linked to this homicide.”

IHIT can be reached at 1-877-551-4448 or ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Kraig Krause 

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