Police want 60 rioters charged

The largest “crime spree” in Vancouver’s history has police recommending 60 people be charged with everything from assault to break and enter and mischief after last June’s Stanley Cup riot in the city’s downtown.

VANCOUVER — The largest “crime spree” in Vancouver’s history has police recommending 60 people be charged with everything from assault to break and enter and mischief after last June’s Stanley Cup riot in the city’s downtown.

Police Chief Jim Chu said Monday that police used a forensic video database to analyze unique characteristics of suspects and are asking the Crown to approve 163 charges against the 60 alleged rioters.

The June 15 riot had police under intense pressure to recommend charges quickly after thousands of people lit fires, burned cars and looted stores following the Vancouver Canucks’ loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final.

“It became, by many measures, the largest crime spree in the history of B.C.,” Chu told reporters at a news conference.

Chu said officers needed to spend the last four months on a vigorous investigation to ensure the most serious charges could be laid against those who caused such extensive damage.

“In the minds of many, today has been a long time coming and I share those frustrations,” Chu said. “I wish there could have been a quicker and simpler way to bring the rioters before the courts, and as tempting as it may have been to some to take those shortcuts, we still believe that we owed it to the victims of the riot and the residents of the community to take the time necessary to build the best cases possible.”

Chu outlined recommended charges against three men in their early 20s, including one who saw his picture from the riot posted on Facebook.

The chief said the Vancouver Island man contacted police to apologize for damaging a car and that after police interviewed him, they were initially prepared to recommend a charge of mischief.

But Chu said investigators then searched for the man’s description in the database of riot video they’d asked the public to download onto a police website. The computer returned numerous hits showing the suspect allegedly damaging six vehicles, including an unmarked police car.

In the second case, Chu said a 21-year-old man’s fate “was sealed by DNA collected at the scene.”

He said the same suspect was seen on video looting a store while masking his face with his shirt and punching a random victim in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious.

Chu said a third case involved a man whose photo in a newspaper showed him reaching into a broken store window.

The man told officers he was just touching a dress on a mannequin, but never took it. The video, however, showed him running down the street with the stolen garment and tossing it onto a burning fire.

Charge recommendations have been forwarded to a team of B.C. Crown prosecutors, who will determine whether charges should be laid. Names of suspected rioters were not released.