Park getting 'too dangerous'

One man is recovering in hospital and Vancouver police are investigating after a shooting in Oppenheimer Park Wednesday night.

Officers patrolling the area heard gunshots in the park about 10:30 p.m. and discovered a 31-year-old Vancouver man with a gunshot wound near Powell Street and Jackson Avenue. Media relations officer Sgt. Jason Robillard said officers initially cleared a homeless camp in the park to ensure everyone was safe.

The injured man is in hospital in stable condition. Robillard said the investigation is ongoing and police believe the suspect fled on foot. No arrests have been made.

The department is raising the alarm about safety in the park.

“There has been a sharp increase in the level of violence in and around the encampment at Oppenheimer Park in recent months,” Robillard said. “Police are responding to several 911 calls in the park every day and we are very concerned about the safety of the people staying there, our officers, firefighters and City of Vancouver staff.”

Last month alone, officers responded to 92 emergency calls in the park. The month of May saw 87 calls. That’s up significantly from 2018, which saw 56 emergency calls in both May and June.

Robillard said police are associating the increase in calls with the ever-growing encampment.

“We want people to be safe in the park, and currently the environment there is not safe, even for our officers,” Robillard said. “On Wednesday, a police officer was assaulted as she tried to assist city crews working to keep the park clean.”

He said that the officer was kicked in the knee at least three times as she tried to remove a man who had jumped onto a garbage truck that was there to “remove some rubbish that was in the area.”  Robillard said that he has heard that when called to the park, officers go in groups of no less than four.

“Right now, I would not recommend the general public walk through Oppenheimer Park,” he said.

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