Saturday, April 19th10.6°C

Shooting in Richmond

Richmond RCMP are investigating an overnight shooting

Police were called to the Mcneely Drive area just before 10:30 p.m.  on April 18,  after a man was shot while sitting in a vehicle.  

The victim was able to get himself to hospital and he is in stable condition.  

Anyone with information regarding this shooting can email [email protected]  or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(2477).



Air Canada luggage toss

Air Canada is apologizing after a video purporting to show a baggage handler dropping luggage from roughly six metres off the ground hit social media.

The video, taken by a passenger on board a plane, shows a baggage handler dropping bags from a boarding gate to a luggage bin.

The video posted April 18 on YouTube is titled "How Air Canada Handles Your Baggage," but it doesn't say where or when the incident occurred.

It's generating a wide range of comments both on the video site and Twitter, with some people lambasting Air Canada and saying they won't fly on the airline again.

Others were more charitable saying the airline should not be judged by the actions of one baggage handler.

In Twitter posts on Saturday, Air Canada says it has launched an investigation and is "very disappointed & sorry about the actions in the video."

"The actions don't reflect our procedure. We apologize for this," the airline said in another tweet.

The Canadian Press

Killer sponges

They look like fuzzy fingers, waving gently from the depths of the ocean floor but make no mistake — they're stone cold killers.

Scientists have discovered four new species of carnivorous sponge off the Pacific Coast, including one deadly variety found hanging from the deep-sea ridges off southern Vancouver Island.

Fortunately, these killers are about the size of a piece of spaghetti and they feed only on the tiny, shrimp-like amphipods and copepods that drift through the sea.

"Sponges characteristically feed on small particles, like bacteria, little tiny guys," said Henry Reiswig, a retired professor of biology at McGill University, volunteer taxonomist at the University of Victoria and the Royal British Columbia Museum, and self-described "sponge guy."

But these meat eaters feed on tiny crustaceans.

"It's a snaring process involving spicules, pieces of glass on their surfaces that they use to snare," said Reiswig, who is "77 or something like that."

Two of the newly discovered species were collected by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute off the California coast and another from a hydrothermal vent field in the Gulf of California off Mexico. The fourth hails from a formation called the Endeavour Segment on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, off south Vancouver Island.

The Canadian beast, Cladorhiza caillieti, looks like a skinny bottle brush. The samples were five to seven centimetres long and only millimetres wide, found attached to the underside of overhanging ledges of basalt more than two thousand metres below sea level.

Reiswig and William Austin, of the Khoyatan Marine Laboratory on Vancouver Island, were enlisted by marine biologist Lonny Lundsten from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to help identify the sponges.

Carnivorous sponges were only discovered in 1995. Since then, only 137 species have been described, including these four. Just 11 of them were found in the North Pacific.

They've been described as the Venus fly traps of the deep sea, a "truly extraordinary species," wrote Lonny Lundsten, the lead author of an article published in the most recent edition of the scientific journal Zootaxa.

Lundsten said the samples were collected by remotely operated vehicles during other research, most of it geological surveys of the sea floor.

Their meat-eating ways are believed to be an adaptation to the nutrient-poor environs of the deep sea, where most are found.

The Canadian Press


Suspicious fires investigated

Abbotsford police are investigating five fires that struck the city in less than 48 hours.

Const. Ian MacDonald says officers have not determined if the incidents are linked but is calling the timing and location of the blazes suspicious.

He says that all of the fires were started in the city's central region during early morning hours.

Three suspicious fires were reported on April 16, and two more occurred today.

MacDonald says residents were evacuated, but no one was injured during any of the blazes.

The Canadian Press

Breach by sex offender

A man who police say is a convicted sex offender is in custody after allegedly breaching the terms of his release.

Thirty-nine-year-old James William Conway of Surrey is charged with two counts of breach of recognizance and is due to appear in court April 23 to face the allegations.

He is accused of violating conditions stating he cannot contact anyone under 18 and that he is to carry a copy of his release order at all times outside his home.

Transit police say a SkyTrain passenger accused a man of behaving inappropriately towards young girls at Columbia Station in New Westminster.

Police issued a news release saying the witness alleged the man was staring at the girls, looking down the fronts of their skirts and attempting to talk with them by producing a teddy bear.

The police news release didn't provide details of Conway's conviction.

The Canadian Press

Amanda Todd case

Canadian police confirmed Thursday an arrest has been made in the Netherlands in the case of a Canadian teenager who was blackmailed into exposing herself in front of a webcam. The 15-year-old later committed suicide after detailing her harassment on a YouTube video watched by millions around the world.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Insp. Paulette Freill said a suspect has been arrested in the Netherlands and charged with extortion, luring and criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution. The 35-year-old man has been identified under Dutch privacy laws only as "Aydin C."

Freill declined to release specifics of the case but said there were other victims in Canada and internationally. Dutch prosecutors said the man is suspected of blackmailing girls in the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands. Canadian police said they would seek extradition.

Amanda Todd brought the problem of cyber bullying to mainstream attention in Canada after she posted a video on YouTube in which she told her story with handwritten signs, describing how she was lured by a stranger to expose her breasts on a webcam.

The picture ended up on a Facebook page made by the stranger, to which her friends were added.

She was repeatedly bullied, despite changing schools, before finally killing herself weeks after posting the video. It has now been viewed more than 17 million times.

"This is truly a day we have been waiting for," said Carol Todd, Amanda's mother. She wiped away tears as she thanked police.

Dutch prosecutors said they filed indecent assault and child pornography charges against the man. Lawyer Christian van Dijk earlier confirmed to The Associated Press that one of the charges against his client involved a 15-year-old girl from British Columbia.

Aydin C., who has dual Dutch and Turkish nationality, has been in detention since he was arrested in January in a vacation house the town of Oisterwijk. He lived alone, and has no wife or children.

Prosecutors first publicized his case after a preliminary hearing Wednesday at which his detention was extended for three months.

"The suspicions against the man are that he approached underage girls via the Internet and then seduced them into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam," prosecutors said in a statement.

"He is suspected of subsequently pressuring them to participate in making new material."

They noted Aydin C. is also thought to have blackmailed adult men in a somewhat similar way, by convincing them that he was an underage boy, convincing them to perform sexual acts on camera, and then threatening to turn the images over to the police.

Lawyer Van Dijk said he doesn't believe prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict his client, and said that even if there is evidence of unlawful activity on his computer, it may have been hacked.

"Prosecutors seem to think they have a big fish here, but if I see the evidence, it's not much," he said. "Lots of references to IP addresses and such."

Dutch prosecutors said they were co-operating with other national authorities, including the British.

Van Dijk said U.S. and Norwegian authorities are also involved in the case.

He said no country has sought to have his client extradited, and so far Aydin C. hasn't entered any plea.

"He's exercising his right to remain silent."

The Canadian Press

Semi flips on 97C

update: The vehicle incident from Pennask Summit (1728 metres) to Brenda Mine Road Exit is now clear.

7:30 a.m. update: The highway has been reopened to one lane Highway 97C eastbound. The route was closed after a semi flipped on its side near the Brenda Mine exit.

6:30 a.m. original story: DriveBC reports that Highway 97C is closed eastbound.

The route is closed from Pennask Summit (1728 metres) to Brenda Mine Road Exit (10.1 km) because of a vehicle incident.

There is no detour available.

The closure was announced at 6:30 a.m. Friday, the estimated time of opening is 7:30 a.m..

If you are on 97C or the Coquihalla send photos and video to [email protected]

AC/DC guitar stolen

It was a theft that played out like the lyrics of the AC/DC song "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."

Mounties in White Rock, B.C., are asking for the public's help in finding a unique guitar stolen from a display case in a local restaurant.

The guitar is a 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul re-issue in a cherry finish, signed by Angus and Malcolm Young of the band AC/DC.

Police say it appears the break-in was done specifically to obtain the piece.

The guitar is easily recognizable by a distinct cartoon picture of an Angus devil on the front.

RCMP say the instrument is of sentimental value and the owners would be pleased to have it back.

The Canadian Press

Charges laid in Amanda Todd case

Five charges including child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and Internet luring have been laid by RCMP against a man in the Netherlands in connection with the Amanda Todd case, a online bullying story that captured millions across the world.

The 15-year-old British Columbia girl killed herself in October 2012, shortly after detailing in an Internet video her story of unrelenting harassment by an Internet predator.

Amanda's mother, Carol Todd, was at the news conference where police made the announcement about charges.

"This is truly a day that we've been waiting for, to hear that something has come out of Amanda's story. I always knew deep in my heart that what my daughter told was the truth."

The announcement on charges Thursday came just hours after a Dutch television station revealed a 35-year-old man jailed in the Netherlands since January was accused of using webcam footage to blackmail dozens of victims, including Todd, in several countries.

RCMP Insp. Paulette Freill said that B.C.'s Crown counsel laid the criminal charges today, but she wouldn't release the man's name to protect the criminal proceedings in the Netherlands.

Freill said all the charges are related to incidents alleged to have happened between Jan. 1, 2010, and Oct. 10, 2012 — the same day Todd died.

Amanda's father, Norm Todd, said he was relieved by the news.

"I'm just really glad that we finally have a suspect arrested and hopefully we can get some justice out of it."

Police wouldn't say if their work in Canada led Dutch police to their suspect or if it was the other way around.

"Today marks a major milestone everybody in our investigation, a suspect has been identified, he's been arrested and he has been charged," said Freill.

Also on Thursday, the prosecution service in the Netherlands said in a news release that the suspect was arrested three months ago and is suspected of encouraging underage girls in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands, to perform sexual acts in front of a web camera.

It's a break in the case that made international headlines and fuelled a debate about bullying and online sexual exploitation after the video surfaced that featured Todd holding up handwritten signs detailing what happened to her.

Mathijs Pennings, a reporter who worked on the story for broadcaster Omroep Brabant, said prosecutors and police believe there could be as many as 40 victims.

"The prosecutors and police think he made footage of the webcam and blackmailed her with the pictures, and he did that with other kids, too, around the world," Pennings told The Canadian Press in an interview from Tilburg, located just west of Oisterwijk, where the man was arrested.

Before Todd's suicide, she uploaded an emotional video in which she said she was lured by an unidentified male to expose her breasts during an online chat. The video said she received a message a year later from a man on Facebook threatening that if she didn't give him a show, he would send the webcam picture to her friends and family.

Todd's story, and others like it, prompted the Canadian government to propose legislation that would make it a criminal offence to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person shown.

Pennings said the man was arrested at a vacation home in Oisterwijk, located about 100 kilometres south of Amsterdam.

The suspect is being held in the Netherlands on charges of indecent assault, the production and dissemination of child pornography, fraud, computer intrusion and the possession of hard drugs, the prosecution news release said.

The B.C. Crown Prosecutors office said that the responsibility for making an application for extradition of an accused from another country is with the federal Department of Justice, which may act after receiving a request from a province.

The branch said in a news release that it has concluded this is an appropriate case to forward such a request to the federal government.

"Given the international aspects of this investigation, including the ongoing case in the Netherlands, it is impossible to predict with any certainty when the accused may appear in a British Columbia court," the statement said.

The man's lawyer, Christian van Dijk, said he doesn't believe prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict his client. He said even if there is evidence of unlawful activity on the man's computer, it may have been hacked.

"Prosecutors seem to think they have a big fish here, but if I see the evidence, it's not much," he said. "Lots of references to IP addresses and such."

Pennings said the man, who is not married and does not have any children, was born in the Netherlands but also has a Turkish passport.

Authorities in the Netherlands were tipped off by an American Internet provider and seized computers when the man was arrested, said Pennings.

Pennings said Dutch people are familiar with Todd's story.

"It was all around the news here too, so her video was watched by many Dutch people," he said.

"People know the story of Amanda Todd."

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Teachers issue strike notice

The BC Teachers Federation has issued 72-hour strike notice, with some services to be withdrawn by Wednesday after Easter.

BCTF President Jim Iker says the BC government has offered only three quarters of one per cent in a wage increase offer.

“Despite our patience and our measured approach in bargaining, Christy Clark and her government are once again trying to provoke BC teachers and shut down BC schools,” said Iker in a release.

The teachers are asking for smaller class sizes, more specialized teachers, and are not interested in a 10-year deal as the premier has suggested.

The teachers union is also seeking a three per cent yearly raise and cost of living increases.

In response, B.C.’s Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued a statement calling the teachers’ strike notice “disappointing.”

“It appears the BCTF has been more focused on implementing its strike plan than bargaining at the table,” said Fassbender. "There has been virtually no movement from the BCTF on their wage and contract positions.”

Next week’s job action is described as “stage one low level action,” where B.C. teachers will not do certain administrative tasks such as attending meetings or communicating with school administration via email.

Iker also underlined that the job action will not disrupt classes, students or the preparation of report cards.

Teachers will also continue with volunteer activities such as coaching school sports teams but will not engage in student supervision outside of regular class time.

The BCTF said it does not want to escalate job action, but is prepared to move to rotating strikes if negotiations do not progress.

Iker said a rotating strike would see one day a week in which all schools in the province would be closed.

Read more:

Weekend snow warning

Highway passes in and out of the Okanagan may be getting a dump of snow this weekend.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the following areas:

  • Coquihalla Highway - Hope to Merritt
  • Coquihalla Highway - Merritt to Kamloops
  • Okanagan Connector - Merritt to Kelowna
  • Okanagan Connector - Merritt to Kelowna
  • Highway 3 - Hope to Princeton via Allison Pass

Environment Canada says a Pacific cold front is spreading precipitation into the interior Thursday morning which will sweep across Southern British Columbia tonight.

In the wake of the cold front the snow level will quickly lower Thursday night causing snow to fall over the remaining mountain passes.

Snowfall accumulations will generally range between 5 to 10 cm by Friday morning but the Kootenay Pass could receive up to 15 cm.

Strong westerly winds of 40 km/h gusting to 60km/h are also expected and will develop overnight creating poor visibility.

The public is advised to monitor future forecasts and warnings as warnings may be required or extended.

Please monitor the latest forecasts and warnings from Environment Canada at WWW.WEATHER.GC.CA and highway conditions at WWW.DRIVEBC.CA.


Family rescued after crash

Police say a 38-year-old woman whose car hit a logging truck on a Nanaimo, highway, flipping upside down with her two young sons inside has a couple of rescuers to thank.

RCMP Cst. Gary O'Brien says the woman was travelling in the fast lane on the Trans-Canada Highway with her seven- and two-year-old boys when she suddenly lost control and swerved into the other lane.

O'Brien says her vehicle struck the back of the truck and landed on its roof on the side of the road on Monday afternoon.

He says the first motorist to stop reported the woman had a gash on her forehead while her older boy was crawling out of the vehicle and she was screaming for her younger son to be taken out.

O'Brien says both men worked hard to remove the toddler from his car seat while smelling gas and stayed with the family until paramedics arrived.

The boys were examined and released from hospital, while the woman, who police say will likely face charges, was kept in hospital overnight for observation.

The Canadian Press

Snowfall warning for Hwy 5

DriveBC is warning motorists who are considering driving the Coquhialla, Thursday, to be extra cautious.

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 15 cm of snow over the Coquihalla Summit late Thursday evening and into Friday morning.

Go to DriveBC for updates on the current road conditions.

Horses seized in Chilliwack

The BC SPCA has seized five badly emaciated horses from a rural property in Chilliwack, including a pregnant mare whose foal may not survive.

The animals were severely undernourished and suffering from various medical problems when officers found them earlier this month, but animal protection officer Eileen Drever said the mother-to-be’s condition was the most distressing.

“She’s currently receiving specialized care,” Drever said. “We’re not sure if her foal will live and we’re not sure if she’ll have enough antibodies in her milk to give the foal.”

Officers said the property also lacked adequate shelter for the horses. The SPCA will be recommending cruelty charges against their owner once its investigation is complete, Drever said.

In the meantime, the organization is calling on the public to help care for the horses, either by adopting them or making donations to pay for their treatment.

“I’m begging at this point,” Drever said. “The mare alone is costing the SPCA $30 per day.”

More than 80 neglected or abused horses have come into the SPCA’s care over the past five months. Drever said complaints involving horses are on the rise, a problem she blamed more on ignorance than outright cruelty.

“I truly believe that people don’t realize what they’re taking on when they buy a horse. They may have the acreage but that’s not enough,” she said.

New horse owner may not realize the animals can’t feed on grass during winter, Drever said, when the food source is completely devoid of nutrients.

The latest horses seized “clearly haven’t been fed sufficiently over the winter months,” she added.

The SPCA said horses are also fairly cheap to purchase right now, and can be found for as little as $70 to $100 at auction.

Anyone who wishes to adopt one of the horses can call the SPCA cruelty investigations office in Surrey at 604-575-2249. Donations can also be made on the SPCA website.

Read more BC News


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