Woman wounded in Oppenheimer Park shot accidentally by own son, VPD says
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver police say the 53-year-old woman shot in Oppenheimer Park last month was shot accidentally by her own son.
The Vancouver Police Department's Major Crime Section has completed its investigation into the Oct. 26 shooting, police said in a release Friday, adding that they won't be recommending charges "because everyone involved has been uncooperative."
"VPD investigators worked diligently for the past month to solve this crime, which caused significant concern in the community and drew more negative attention to the park," said VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison in the release.
The incident happened sometime before 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, while the victim was inside a parked car on Dunlevy Avenue. At the time, police said they learned of the shooting when the victim checked herself into a hospital.
Investigators determined that the victim, who lives in Powell River, was visiting someone who lives in the Oppenheimer Park homeless camp, police said.
The victim required surgery and is no longer in Vancouver, according to police.
Police said Friday that they "quickly identified the woman's son as the suspected shooter," and believe he accidentally fired the weapon while speaking to her near the vehicle.
The suspect, a man in his 30s, was arrested later in the week for another violent offence, police said. During his arrest, officers seized a gun from him that they believe was used in the accidental shooting.
“This is another example how the proliferation of firearms and the cavalier attitude towards weapons is putting people in harm’s way in the Downtown Eastside,” Addison said in the VPD release. “Our front-line officers continue to regularly take knives, guns, and other improvised weapons off the street.”
The VPD has been warning for months that the homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park is at the centre of a spike in crime in the city in 2019. Nearly half of all firearms seized by police in the city as of August had been seized in the Downtown Eastside.
Vancouver police and mayor Kennedy Stewart have advocated for a court injunction to remove campers from the park. Stewart has also called for the city to take over park operations from the Vancouver Park Board, which is normally responsible for them. So far, the board has declined to pursue either of those options, citing a lack of housing for the homeless residents who would be displaced.
In August, the city imposed a deadline for campers to move out of the park, promising 140 units of housing for people to move into. Some people accepted housing offers from the city, but others remained in the park, and activists said there was not enough housing available for everyone who had been camping there.