Skip to main content

Suspect in Chinatown stabbing was on day-release from psychiatric facility, Vancouver police say

Vancouver's chief of police provided more information Monday about a random stabbing during a festival in Chinatown that left three people with serious injuries -- including that the suspect was out on a day pass from a forensic psychiatric institution.

At a news conference, Chief Const. Adam Palmer said the 64-year-old man who was arrested Sunday has not yet been charged.

"That suspect is now in custody as they work to gather evidence that will bring this person to justice and help explain why the senseless act of violence occurred," he said, later describing the attack as carried out “with no warning and for no apparent reason."

Palmer also said the suspect has had "contact with the police in the past" outside of Vancouver and that he was on a day pass from a forensic psychiatric facility in another city.

When asked to elaborate, Palmer said previous interactions with police had been "serious" and occurred elsewhere in B.C.

Palmer also stressed most people who are mentally ill are not dangerous and are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime.

"But there are some people in our community that don't function well and are a danger to the general public. This person is one of those people. So, I do have a lot of concern when somebody of that nature is roaming around, just anywhere in our community," he said.

Palmer also provided some more information about the victims, saying they were a married couple in their 60s and a woman in her 20s. He did not elaborate on their injuries but described them as serious.

"The victims have been treated for their injuries and in time their physical scars will heal but their emotional scars, the scars inflicted on the community, as a result of this crime will of course take much longer.”

Palmer would not comment on the weapon used but did say an "object" had been seized at the scene.

All three are Asian and Palmer said part of the investigation will be to determine if the attack was motivated by hate or racism.

The violence unfolded just after 6 p.m. as hundreds gathered in the neighbourhood for the final day of the Light Up Chinatown festival. Officers who had been assigned to patrol the festival area responded and the suspect was arrested blocks away.

Crime and vandalism have been described as surging or spiking in Chinatown since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and promises to improve public safety and revitalize the historic neighbourhood were a plank in Mayor Ken Sim's campaign platform.

Millions and millions of dollars have been funneled into the neighbourhood since Sim and a majority from his ABC party were elected last year, funding things like a community policing office, an increase in police foot patrols, graffiti removal and funding for events and festivals meant to usher in crowds and commerce.

Palmer insisted that this random and very public crime occurred against a backdrop where efforts by the VPD and the municipal government have made great strides in restoring a sense of safety to the neighbourhood.

"Last night's attack cause some to doubt the tremendous progress that has collectively been made in Chinatown. That is understandable," he said, adding that progress is rarely linear.

"Please know that we're in this together, that we have your back and that crimes like this one that happened last night do not define the Chinatown community."

Sim made similar comments, expressing shock and sadness at the "heartbreaking" attacks while also emphasizing resilience and touting recent improvements – saying the festival was a demonstration of the renewed vitality in the neighbourhood until it was marred by a random act of violence.

"This is a setback, make no mistake about it but whatever we can do to make this community a better place, a safer place – we will," he said.

"We're not giving up." Top Stories

Stay Connected