Police arrest dozens over long weekend in Whistler
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Lower Mainland teens cause trouble, ‘intimidate’ people in Village
Though there were no serious public safety issues, the May long weekend in Whistler was once again marked with public drunkenness, rowdiness and the presence of large groups of young people from the Lower Mainland causing disturbances in the Village.
Police incidents were up over last year’s relatively quiet Victoria Day weekend in Whistler, with 146 calls for police service last Friday through Monday (May 18 to 21), said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair of Whistler RCMP. That’s compared to 104 calls for service during the long weekend in May 2011.
Some of the more notable incidents over the weekend included two separate pepper-spraying attacks, several police-assisted hotel evictions, a drug trafficking arrest and a bloody incident involving an intoxicated youth who was punched, fell and hit his head and had to be transported to a Vancouver hospital for a head injury.
A total of 23 people were arrested for public drunkenness and held in police custody until they were sober, and Whistler RCMP issued a total of 102 bylaw and Liquor Act tickets for alcohol offences. Nine people were ticketed for urinating in public, four for obstructing police by providing false names or resisting arrest and four were ticketed for indecent behaviour, LeClair said.
In keeping with what has become a tradition of sorts in Whistler, most of the police incidents involved peopled in their late teens and early 20s from the Lower Mainland.
According to some locals, the holiday weekend was also marked by the feelings of intimidation and discomfort in the Village that the Victoria Day has become notorious for in Whistler — an atmosphere that has concerned hotel operators and others in past years as possibly damaging to tourism in the resort.
“The demographic during long weekend is incompatible with Whistler's friendly and outdoorsy population,” Whistlerite Penny Buswell wrote in an email to The Question. “I found the gangs intimidating and my car was chased by one group as I drove back from the Village. I usually bike to the Village, but after it got dark I was too frightened to bike home. I didn't even feel comfortable walking to my car alone, because there were cars circling the Day Lots. There also seemed to be more drug use.”
But overall, LeClair said he was “generally pleased” with the strong police presence and response in Whistler over the 2012 Victoria Day weekend. He noted there were no serious incidents and “legitimate visitors to Whistler remain safe.”
“We did have some problematic visitors from the Lower Mainland and they were dealt with accordingly,” LeClair said. “The public should be aware that there was a considerable presence all weekend long. Because of that I’m confident that public safety was maintained.”
Rumours of a stabbing started circulating after an incident on Sunday afternoon (May 20) that resulted in a 17-year-old male from Surrey being taken by ambulance to a Vancouver hospital for a head injury. Police were called to a fight in progress in the Village involving about 10 men, and when officers arrived they located the 17-year-old lying unconscious on the ground with a “significant amount of blood” around his head, LeClair said.
A group of men were located in a nearby restaurant and an 18-year-old from Delta admitted to having punched the young man. He told police he was “minding his own business” when the Surrey male came over and attacked him, LeClair said. Witnesses corroborated the Delta man’s version of events and no charges are being contemplated.
Police had actually encountered the Surrey youth in the early morning hours of Sunday, ticketing him for trespassing after he refused to leave a rental unit.
LeClair was unsympathetic about the youth’s injury.
“That’s unfortunate but that’s what happens when you consume too much alcohol and behave aggressively,” he said.
On Sunday night, a 26-year-old Whistler man was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking after police seized four bags of a substance believed to be cocaine, a ziplock bag with capsules suspected to be ecstasy, a scale and packaging material. He’s due in court on July 25.
A 17-year-old Burnaby male had to be taken to the health centre at about 2 a.m. Monday after he was pepper sprayed in the eyes. The victim said a group of “East Indian males” came up for no reason and sprayed him, also threatening the victim and his friends with brass knuckles, LeClair said. No suspects were located.
A group of eight Surrey men, age 17 to 20, were arrested on Sunday afternoon after multiple reports of them drinking in public, fighting and shouting obscenities in the Village. They were held in custody to prevent them from causing further disturbances, LeClair said.
On Friday, officers seized “copious amounts of alcohol,” marijuana, a baton, brass knuckles and bear spray from a group of nine Surrey males, age 17 and 18, in a road block at Function Junction, LeClair said.