Man charged in downtown Vancouver machete attack

·2 min read
Vancouver police blocked off the busy downtown Granville street Saturday night, after a man allegedly set his suite in a rooming house on fire and attacked four people with a machete. (Luis de la Selva/CBC - image credit)
Vancouver police blocked off the busy downtown Granville street Saturday night, after a man allegedly set his suite in a rooming house on fire and attacked four people with a machete. (Luis de la Selva/CBC - image credit)

Vancouver police have identified and charged the man suspected of attacking and seriously injuring four people with a machete Saturday night in a rooming house on the busy downtown Granville strip.

"Ibrahim Abdela Bakhit, 48, has been charged with one count each of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose," Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said Monday in a statement.

She said four people were attacked and stabbed inside the rooming house near Granville and Smithe streets.

"When VPD officers arrived at the scene, they were confronted by the suspect who was still armed with the weapon. Shots were then fired by police and the suspect was injured."

Luis de la Selva/CBC
Luis de la Selva/CBC

Visintin said the four victims and the suspect were taken to hospital with "serious, life-altering injuries."

"Someone lost their fingers. One person got it in the back of the neck and twice on the head from the blunt side," said Crispin Bryce, the general manager of Siesta Rooms, the rooming house above the Roxy Cabaret where the incident started.

Mayor asks the province to do more

On Sunday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart issued a statement thanking police and firefighters for their quick response and calling on the B.C. government to do more to address prolific offenders and boost mental health resources.

Stewart says violent offenders who pose a threat to themselves or others are too often released back into rooming houses or encampments. He says there isn't enough room in correctional facilities or mental health institutions to keep dangerous offenders off the street.

"That's why we need a systems reform here," he told CBC's The Early Edition on Monday, "both with facilities that are appropriate for either people with severe mental health challenges that need to be held involuntarily or more facilities for violent offenders."

CBC reached out to the office of B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth Monday morning. He declined an interview but said in a emailed statement that the government is making "historic" investments in mental health and addictions care, and working hard to build a comprehensive system of care for all British Columbians.

IIO investigating

Because police shot and injured the suspect in Saturday's attack, the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) — which looks into police interactions where people are killed or seriously injured — will be looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Ron MacDonald, the head of the IIO, says that includes studying whether Ibrahim Abdela Bakhit was struggling with mental health problems.

"We will be looking at all of the issues that surround the background of that individual," he told CBC. "What may or may not have led him to this interaction with police."

The VPD says Bakhit will remain in custody until his next court appearance.