The Vancouver Police led Integrated Riot Investigation Team has been created to launch a massive and unprecedented investigation designed to identify and apprehend those responsible for criminal acts following the final game of the Stanley Cup.
Early results of the investigation have already led to charges and arrests as information from thousands of witnesses pour into the Vancouver Police Department.
The Vancouver Police are urging those who were caught in the act on video and in photos to come forward and turn themselves in.
“If you come in voluntarily you can do so discreetly and at a time that is convenient for you,” said Chief Constable Jim Chu. “If you wait until we find you – and we will find you – we will arrest you in a public manner suitable to the public crimes you have committed.”
The investigation has revealed more details about the background of the rioters that were not known in the early hours following the riot.
“Based on the best information we had the following morning, we stated that the instigators among the mob were ‘criminals, anarchists and thugs who came to town bent on destruction and mayhem’ regardless of the outcome of the game,” said Chief Constable Chu.
“While we are still standing by that observation about the instigators, we are learning that most of the people that joined in the riot and that have now been charged represent a wider spectrum of young people, many of whom do not have criminal records.”
Because the makeup of the crowd involves suspects from many jurisdictions and communities across the province, the new Integrated Riot Investigation team will be comprised of investigators from different Lower Mainland municipal departments, along with the RCMP, who all played a crucial role in helping to quell the riot in half the time it took to get the 1994 riot under control.
“The RCMP and other municipal agencies are eager to contribute resources to help the VPD in this integrated investigation,” said Asst. Commissioner Craig Callens. “The job before us is massive but we will not stand down until we are satisfied that those responsible have been arrested and charged.”
As of early today, a total of 117 people have been arrested. Many of these were arrested on Wednesday night for breach of peace. While investigators pour over thousands of videos and tips, evidence is being collected and reports written in anticipation of many more arrests and charges over the coming weeks.
- Edgar Ricardo Garcia, 20, of Burnaby has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with an incident where two men were stabbed in the 700 block of Hornby Street.
- Joshua Lyle Evans, 27, of Calgary has been charged with possessing a weapon dangerous to the public peace in connection with the same incident.
Charges have been requested against six other men for various offenses and are currently awaiting approval by Crown Counsel.
So far about a dozen people have turned themselves in to the VPD and three to other police agencies.
The mass of information contained in social media is posing unique opportunities and challenges for investigators.
“The sheer volume and speed of the information is overwhelming,” said VPD Sergeant Dale Weidman.
“In a routine case we have a clear crime and then take steps to identify the suspect and compile evidence. In these cases, we have names of suspects before we know exactly what they did and where they did it. Obtaining that information quickly is the challenge as we work backwards from the end point to the beginning.”
The Integrated Riot Investigative Unit will swell to more than three dozen officers and civilian analysts over the next few days.
“We want to thank everyone for their support and their information,” said Chief Chu. “We may not be able to respond to everyone as quickly as we would prefer but we are committed to getting back to every single person who contacts us as soon as we can. In the meantime, I would ask everyone to not destroy any evidence they may have already sent us.”