VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — People who live in Strathcona are reacting with fear and worry following the horrific murder of a senior in Vancouver.
Usha Singh, 78, died in hospital on Tuesday, two days after she was attacked at her home near Queen Elizabeth Park by two men pretending to be police officers. One of two men arrested in connection with the attack was taken into custody near Strathcona Park, where he is believed to be a resident.
With his family living just a couple of blocks away from Strathcona Park, Jamie Maclaren says the arrest of a suspect there is very concerning.
“We live two blocks away from the park and we used to visit the park on a daily basis. This news and the connection to the park sends a chill down your spine, makes you very worried and fearful, especially if you have a family like we do,” he says. “It’s just really distressing to know that there are potential murderers living in the camp in the park, just two blocks away from your house.”
The social justice lawyer says even though all levels of government are aware of the issues plaguing the homeless encampment, meaningful action hasn’t been taken and that’s led to an increase in violent crime, and in this case, murder.
“We didn’t think we could become more concerned. We’ve been voicing concern for the eight or nine months that the encampments been in Strathcona Park and it’s been mainly out of compassion for the people living there and their need to be housed so we’ve been pushing governments to get them out as soon as possible,” he says. “There’s been an absolute lack of leadership on that front and it’s all levels of government. Our mayor in Vancouver, he’s not been the leader we needed.”
Maclaren adds while the site has been the homeless camp has been a site of contention for several months, he feels Kennedy Stewart needs to step up and do more to address issues like homelessness, drug use, poverty, and mental health issues.
“He hasn’t been front and center, he’s been absent from our community. We’ve asked him to meet with us several times, as far as I know, he’s met with a select group of people in the early months of the encampment and not since,” he adds. “It’s really distressing. A lot of people are hopeless. Families are moving away from Strathcona because they’ve given up hope. It’s hard to stay here and to love the community when you don’t feel safe.”
It’s a sentiment he shares, adding he’s frustrated the latest development out of the park is the brutal homicide of a senior woman who was beaten in her own home.
“The details are absolutely awful, and you hate to think about the poor woman and what she went through in their last moments. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a predictable consequence of an encampment left to fester and grow for so long.”