Witnesses sought after unprovoked attack on B.C. teenager with autism
VANCOUVER -- As a Richmond family tries to come to terms with a violent attack on their teenage son, who lives with a developmental disability, RCMP investigators are appealing for witnesses.
Andrei First, an 18-year-old diagnosed with autism, was playing basketball on the outdoor courts at Richmond Secondary School Friday night when the assault, which police call unprovoked, took place.
According to First’s family, the attacker first accused their son of being too loud, so the victim’s friends explained that he has special needs and encouraged the attacker to let it go — but he didn’t.
“This attack was unprovoked and the young man received a pretty significant facial injury as well as a concussion,” said Cpl. Ian Henderson of the Richmond RCMP. “We want to do everything we can to find the accused and bring him to justice.”
The assault left First with a split lip that needed stitches, plus lacerations and abrasions on his neck and arms.
Afterwards, First made his way home where his parents found him disoriented and covered in blood — unable to explain what had happened.
“It’s very hard for any parent to find your child like that…it’s very, very, very hard. And when your child has autism on top of it and doesn’t even understand a lot of things that are happening to him…” said the victim’s father, Harris First, his voice trailing off as he struggled to contain his emotions.
A witness called 911 but by the time police arrived, First’s parents had already taken him to the hospital.
Based on the witness description of the injuries, Mounties went to the hospital and found the family, explaining to First’s parents what had happened.
“I tried to teach Andrei, first of all, to reach out to people and to find his way in life through people because there is no other way,” said Fast. “I always told him people will treat you in kind and if you just be nice to people they will be nice back to you and everything’s going to be fine. Most of the time it is fine.”
First lives directly next to the school where the attack took place and has grown up playing basketball on the outdoor courts there.
His father says he is recovering well and already trying to put the attack behind him.
“He’s a very positive person, despite all of this,” said First. “Every day he is taking selfies of his lip and comparing it to yesterday and two days ago. And he said, 'This is good progress. Dad look, I’m getting better.' ”
Richmond RCMP say they have identified a suspect but no charges have been laid yet as they appeal for more witnesses to come forward to strengthen their case.