An RCMP officer with Burnaby’s homeless and mental health outreach team was stabbed to death Tuesday while answering a call about a tent in a local park.
Dwayne McDonald, deputy commissioner of the BC force, told reporters at a press conference hastily called Const. Shaelyn Yang, 31, has been a member of the RCMP for just three years.
“She was a loving wife, sister and daughter,” he said. “People she worked with before joining the RCMP and her police colleagues describe Const. Yang as a kind and compassionate person, which makes her death all the more difficult to accept. more… Her loss is immeasurable.”
Police say Yang was with a member of the city’s parks department to the call about the tent located in Broadview Park when the brawl broke out.
The head of the Burnaby RCMP squad also remembered Yang, his voice cracking as he spoke.
“Standing here today, speaking of influence, the death of one of our members was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my entire career,” said Chief Supt. Graham De La Gorgendiere said.
“She has compassion and care and she brings those skills into her work every day when working with the most vulnerable people in the community, including those with health problems. mental health.
“The coming hours, weeks and months will be very difficult.”
VIEW | Burnaby RCMP general manager recalled Shaelyn Yang:
In a statement to CBC, BC Emergency Medical Services said it received a call at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday about a police incident at Canada Way and Curle Avenue in Burnaby. BCEHS said a total of eight ground ambulances responded and paramedics cared for and transported two patients to the hospital in critical condition.
BC RCMP deputy commissioner and squad leader Burnaby RCMP spoke of Yang’s death shortly after 4:30pm PT.
Police said Yang was taken to the hospital where she died and the suspect in the stabbing was shot, injured and taken to hospital.
Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was among the first to publicly confirm the official’s death Tuesday with a brief, solemn statement.
“This is absolutely a tragic and terrible situation,” the minister said, telling reporters at the BC Legislature.
“Right now, my heart goes out to family, friends and officers and police departments in Burnaby and across this province. [who]every day, put their lives first to keep all of us in our community safe. “
Farnworth’s announcement comes hours after the incident at Broadview Park on Canada Road late Tuesday morning.
Dozens of officers from multiple police agencies attended the scene, and the RCMP asked the public to avoid Canada Way between Boundary Road and Willingdon Avenue – both major thoroughfares – as they investigate.
Reports began circulating on social media that the incident happened while police and law enforcement officers were answering a call about a homeless shelter.
But Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley told CBC’s On the beach that he believes only one tent is involved and that city staff are part of the park team working to move people from tents to shelters.
“Everybody is devastated and it’s been a very, very serious day for our city,” Hurley said.
Warren Mercier, who lives nearby, said he was waiting to cross the street when he saw an officer running and heard a noise “like a Taser”.
“I saw an officer and a man on the ground. She didn’t move,” Mercier said.
“There was another man helping her. And after the police showed up, he was very upset.”
Mercier said he saw one tent in a park near the area and another in the nearby woods. But he said there have never been any problems.
“I’ve been seeing it for a month,” he said. “No people in and out, nothing. Just a tent.”
Carol-Ann Flanagan, outreach director for Endlessness in Burnaby, said she learned about the incident through the media and was unaware of a homeless camp in the area.
She said the RCMP has a team of officers dedicated to homelessness and mental health issues.
“The homeless people we work with live in camps, for the most part, are not violent people, and so this is not the norm,” Flanagan said.
“I just feel so sorry for the officer, her colleagues and her family. I’m heartbroken for everyone right now.”
Trudeau sends condolences
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of the officer’s killing.
“My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen officer. I keep you in my thoughts during this terrible time,” he said.
Federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino said he was saddened by the news of the disappearance of an officer on duty.
“At this difficult time, my heart goes out to the family and friends of the deceased officer and the entire Burnaby RCMP Squad,” he said in a tweet.
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer also sent out a tweet expressing the department’s condolences over the “tragic murder” of officer Burnaby RCMP.
The incident comes at a critical time in the public debate about the growing number of homeless people in BC communities and concerns from mayors like Hurley about violence related to mental illness. and addiction.
The provincial government recently authorized a prolific offenders report following a call to action signed by mayors of communities across BC.
“There’s always been homeless people living in our wooded areas and parks, but I think it’s becoming much more common, and I’d say it’s becoming even more common,” Hurley said. much more violent than before.”
“We need to come up with practical solutions rather than Band-Aid solutions.”
BC’s Office of Independent Investigation, which reviews all police actions leading to death or serious harm, confirmed that its investigators were also at the scene of the incident.