VPD investigating Saturday shooting near Oppenheimer Park
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Police Department is investigating a shooting that sent a woman to hospital with serious injuries Saturday afternoon.
In a release, police said they learned of the incident around 3:30 p.m., after the victim was taken to hospital by a friend.
The shooting happened sometime before then, while the woman was inside a parked vehicle on Dunlevy Avenue near Oppenheimer Park.
Police said the woman's injuries required surgery, but were not life-threatening. They described her as a 53-year-old woman from Powell River who was visiting a man who lives at the homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park.
The VPD said officers are investigating a possible motive, adding it's too early to determine if the shooting was targeted or random.
Detectives from the VPD's Major Crime Section are investigating, and would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident or has information about it. Tips can be provided by calling 604-717-2541 or by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 to report anonymously.
'It's not just a homeless situation anymore': Park commissioner
Saturday's incident is the latest to occur near the Downtown Eastside tent city this year.
"We've seen it become more violent and more violent. So whenever you hear there's another shooting down there, I just hold my breath," said Park Board Commissioner Tricia Barker.
Vancouver police have previously said the city has seen a spike in crime in 2019, which Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow described as "stemming out of Oppenheimer Park and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside."
Last month, officers said they had seized a total of 453 firearms so far in 2019, nearly half of them from the Downtown Eastside.
After a string of gang-related shootings in the neighbourhood in late September, police announced earlier this month that they had arrested three people involved in an alleged "murder conspiracy" targeting "a known drug trafficker."
Vancouver police and Mayor Kennedy Stewart have advocated for a court injunction to remove campers from the park, but the Vancouver Park Board, which is responsible for park operations, has declined to do so, arguing that there isn't sufficient housing available for residents to move into.
"It's not just a homeless situation anymore – it's a violent crime situation," Barker said
She and Commissioner John Coupar are the only two on the board who voted in favour of a court injunction.
"Once that dispersal has happened – we can go back to just dealing with this horrible homelessness that's in this city – but we have deal with the violent crime situation first," she said.
She said the latest shooting highlights the need to take action right away.
"My greatest concern is we're not going to do anything until we have a death down there," she said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday.