Police in Surrey, B.C., continue to hunt for the person behind an unprovoked fatal assault on a mother waiting outside a hockey arena earlier this week, as the shocking and brutal attack threatens to further mar the city's already troubled reputation.
Investigators established a command post outside of the Newton Arena, where 53-year-old Julie Paskall was attacked while waiting to pick up her son from hockey, Sunday night. Paskall passed away in hospital on Tuesday after being removed from life support.
It appears the violent attack – possibly involving the use of a large rock – was unprovoked and, according to police, bears striking similarities to another recent attack in the same neighbourhood.
Surrey's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the assault shares similarities with an attack on another woman at a nearby bus loop on Dec. 16.
Community members told the Vancouver Sun on Thursday that there have been other attacks in the area recently, near a public transit loop and only a few blocks from an RCMP station.
A Newton neighbourhood blog partially credits an increase of violence in the area to clean-up efforts in the city's downtown Whalley district.
"Unfortunately, Newton has become the new Whalley, and Whalley's Woes have become Newton's Nightmares. That is heartbreakingly true for one family tonight," reads a Dec. 30 post by ReNewton Nation.
Surrey is British Columbia’s second-largest city and has a garnered a gang reputation based on violence and gang activity.
While most major British Columbia municipalities have seen their crime rates decrease in recent years, Surry's has ticked upward. According to the provincial ministry of justice, there were 43,162 criminal offenses in 2012, up from 42,913 in 2011 and 42,735 in 2010. However, violent crimes had decreased from 7,630 in 2011 to 7,189 last year. Homicides similarly dropped, from 16 in 2011 to nine in 2012. Last year, 25 murders were reported in Surrey.
As sad as the attack is, it isn’t even the most recent death. The city marked the new year with the death of a 19-year-old girl, who fell from a Surry highrise building on Wednesday.