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Vancouver Chinatown stabbing suspect was out on day pass from psychiatric facility: police

Stranger attacked three festival-goers near the main stage.
In 2021: The inaugural Light Up Chinatown celebration. FRANCIS GEORGIAN, PNG

The person suspected of stabbing three people in a random attack at the Light Up Chinatown festival in Vancouver was on a day-release from a local psychiatric facility, say police.

Investigators are still working to determine the motive for the attack, which occurred just before 6 p.m. on Sunday near the main stage at Columbia and Keefer streets. 

“With no warning and for no apparent reason, a stranger approached these three people and attacked them, stabbing each of them,” said Vancouver Police  Chief Const. Adam Palmer at a news conference on Monday.

The victims — a couple in their 60s from Burnaby and a woman in her 20s — sustained serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

They were taken to hospital and have since been released.

Following the attack, witnesses gave police a description of the suspect and a 64-year-old man was apprehended shortly after.

The man was on a day pass from a Lower Mainland forensic psychiatric facility, said Palmer. He has had “serious interactions” with police in the past, but not in Vancouver.

No charges have been laid in this incident.

Community leaders say they’re devastated and heartbroken over the senseless attack.

Light Up Chinatown is a free, two-day outdoor festival with live performances, food trucks, lights and family activities.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim released a statement on Sunday night following the stabbings:

“Earlier this evening, three people were attacked in Chinatown. Every single person who lives in or visits our city has a right to feel safe,” he said. “To see individuals physically harmed by such senseless violence is heartbreaking. Our city stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Light up Chinatown!, our Chinese community and all those who participated today.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this act of violence. We wish all of those affected a speedy recovery, and offer our support to their families and loved ones.

“We will not allow this senseless act of violence to disrupt celebrations of all that makes our city great, and we will work each and every day to ensure Vancouver is a place where people can live, work and thrive in a safe environment.”

The festival is organized by the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, which is devoted to the revitalization of the neighbourhood.

Foundation chairwoman Carol Lee issued a statement after the attack, saying the safety and well-being of the community is the top priority, and the organization will work closely with the city as police conduct their investigation.

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the incident that transpired during the Light Up Chinatown! festival. On behalf of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, as well as the organizing committee and the community, our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”

— With files from The Canadian Press