On a hot evening last week, a 15-year-old boy from Coquitlam was playing basketball with two of his cousins when a group of older youths cornered them and sprayed them with bears.
On Monday, Owen Kindopp was playing basketball with three friends in South Surrey when two unidentified men brandished a gun, stole their bags and dropped bear spray before fleeing.
These are the latest in a series of attacks involving pepper spray in Metro Vancouver. It’s unclear if the same suspects are involved, but videos of the attacks later appear on a local Instagram page.
Two of the latest victims are speaking out in the hope that the attackers will be caught – and no one else will be harmed.
The Coquitlam boy’s parents spotted a video of his attack after he returned home. The family has requested that the boy’s name be kept confidential.
He was playing basketball at Lower Lougheed Park around 8 p.m. on August 1 when a group of people, who appeared to be in their late teens, blocked both entrances to the court. They had a truncheon with them and started beating it on the ground.
One of the attackers accused the three cousins of “talking smack” about his daughter, which confused the boys. The attacker then asked the boys to look at something on his phone, but as they approached he sprayed two of them in the face with bear spray.
“They are complete strangers. We have no idea who they are. It seems like they’re just guys looking for trouble,” the boy’s 18-year-old brother told Daily Hive.
The three boys fled after being sprayed. The two who had been shot, and whose eyes were burning, knocked on the door of a nearby house and the helpful resident let them wash inside. The third cousin ran home to tell the family what had happened.
“I definitely don’t want to see these guys go out and do this to another family or other people. It’s really scary,” the older brother said.
The family called the police, but officers apparently told them the video quality may be too poor to identify the suspects. const. Coquitlam RCMP’s Deanna Law confirmed there was an active investigation into the incident, but did not respond to questions from Daily Hive or provide further details.
Basketball players robbed and doused in South Surrey
A week after the incident in Coquitlam, Kindopp was also confronted by unidentified people brandishing bear spray while playing basketball at Ray Shepherd Elementary in South Surrey.
It happened on August 7 just before 11:30 p.m., Kindopp told Daily Hive. The pair, whom he believed to be in their late teens, entered the basketball court wearing balaclavas and brandishing what appeared to be a gun.
“They were both screaming to give them all our stuff,” Kindopp said.
After the thieves took a backpack and a power bank, the friends began to back away – that’s when the attackers doused them before running off themselves.
“It was completely unprovoked,” Kindopp said. “They just unloaded the mass box in [my friend’s] Face.”
Kindopp thought the gun may have been a modified airsoft gun as it looked like it was plastic when the attacker tried to cock it. He also asked why they would bring bear spray if they had a real gun – but he didn’t want to take any chances.
The group knocked on nearby doors until someone let them in to wash the pepper spray out of their eyes, and police arrived on the scene within minutes. A K-9 unit searched the neighborhood for the suspects, but could not find them.
Cpl. Vanessa Munn of Surrey RCMP said the incident is being investigated and there is no information yet to suggest it is linked to other bear spraying incidents in the Lower Mainland.
“It definitely left me wondering, like, do I still want to go out at night?” Kindopp said. “Four of us had been robbed, so I don’t know the whole issue of security in numbers. It doesn’t do much when they’re armed.
He added that someone may have filmed the attack because they noticed a light similar to a phone flashlight at the time of the attack. The video hasn’t appeared online yet, but he’s keeping an eye out.
Videos of attacks shared on social networks
The Coquitlam boy’s family found video of his attack shared on @cancouver_beefs. The account owner, however, claimed he was not involved in the assaults and only posts videos sent to him anonymously.
The account is in its third iteration after its first two were shut down by Instagram.
After Daily Hive published this story, a woman sent an email saying she had recorded the video. It was originally uploaded to Instagram by user @yvng.laith.
“I don’t know him personally, but I know some common followers of him…I recorded it because I thought it was awful,” she said.
His Instagram story of the sprayed boys was followed by a second clip of someone spraying a SkyTrain passenger.
Daily Hive has contacted Metro Vancouver Transit Police for further details.
Police investigate attacks in Metro Vancouver
Although bear spray attacks have been reported across the Lower Mainland this spring and summer, no police force has confirmed the attacks are linked.
The Vancouver Police Department responded to an attack in Kitsilano on July 30 where two men were sprayed with bears as they returned home. The group of youths who were harassing them fled and no arrests were made.
VPD said he did not believe the problem was widespread at the time.
Bear spray was also thrown inside Killarney Secondary School in June when two teenagers who were not attending the school apparently tried to assault a male student.
In May, a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old were arrested after a father and son were sprayed with bears near the Nanaimo train station.
The sale of bear spray is controlled in British Columbia and customers must produce government-issued photo ID showing they are over 18 at the time of purchase.
With files from Amir Ali of Daily Hive