It was a night of chaos for Delta Police in Tsawwassen on Monday.
That’s how DPD public affairs manager A/Insp. James Sandberg described a serious Halloween night incident at South Delta Secondary and Dennison Park.
Sandberg said an estimated 400 youths engaged in a wild fireworks fight that resulted in several injuries to the participants as well as officers.
He said police have created a portal on its website where the public can upload any digital information to aid police in their investigation. See the link here.
“It was mob mentality where regular responsibility and inhibitions fell away. It was clearly a deliberate gathering to damage property, cause disruption and impact public safety,” said Sandberg. “We have several injuries including a female youth who had their jacket catch on fire and she has serious burn injuries to her shoulder. We had attempts to draw officers out and then target them with fireworks, so deliberate attempts to cause injury.”
He said two officers have filed WorkSafe BC claims as a result of the injuries they sustained.
“We are disappointed with the lack of regard for our neighbours, and our community,” added Chief Neil Dubord. “In previous years, throughout Delta, our officers typically saw Halloween celebrations of small groups and small amounts of fireworks. 2022 presented differently. Our officers observed organized, deliberate attempts to do damage and cause disruption.”
Dubord said the DPD is working with its partners from the Delta School District and the City of Delta to further investigate this incident.
Sandberg said parents have to take a lot more responsibility.
“Parents are also part of the concern because we saw parents dropping their kids off at the park to join in,” he said. “They are enabling this. This was four hours of sustained fireworks, so where are these kids getting these fireworks?”
Delta Fire Department response
Fire Chief Guy McKintuck also expressed concerns about the night's activities.
He said there were a number of reported calls, which included five garbage can fires and one hedge fire that almost resulted in several house fires.
“We were just lucky that the home owners were able to get their garden hoses on the hedge before we got there, but that could have resulted in something much worse,” he said. “That was a direct result of kids shooting fireworks into that hedge.”
McKintuck said there is a fireworks ban in place in Delta, which the majority of people comply with, but some do not.
“The biggest challenge we have is the majority of municipalities in Metro Vancouver ban the sale and use of fireworks without a permit, but there are certain ones that still allow it, so you can purchase fireworks in a city close to Delta and transport them in,” he said. “I know the city brought in extra staffing for this issue, but they can’t be everywhere where all the problems were happening. I really enjoy fireworks and feel they are a great source of entertainment if used responsibly, but unfortunately we have some people who continue to use them irresponsibly. From a safety perspective, it is just pure luck that no one was seriously injured last night.”
He said parents have a responsibility to have a better handle on their children’s behavior.
“It’s not everyone, but there are always going to be some who will not comply with our bylaws and use this as an opportunity to vandalize, set fires and assault people,” he added.
City will not condone this behaviour
Mayor George Harvie said council will be meeting with the school board, police and fire for a full debrief on the night’s activities.
“Extremely disappointed. I thought we were much more mature as a community,” said Harvie. “I hope that the parents of the students involved know what is going on because this is not a police problem, it is a family problem. This is the worst we have ever had.
“These were not traditional fireworks…it was like concussion bombs going off. And it was just not Delta, it was everywhere.”
Harvie said he will raise this issue at the next meeting of the Metro Vancouver board.
“It is a Metro thing, but it really starts at home here in Delta,” he said.
Ladner and North Delta also had issues
Police say Ladner and North Delta saw youth gathering complaints as well as multiple fireworks and noise complaints.
In one instance, a North Delta father supervising trick-or-treating youth, was targeted by unknown youth in a bear-spray assault. This investigation is ongoing.
In another instance, a portable toilet was destroyed when it was blown up with fireworks.
In a third event, a fire at the Mackie Park turf field was quickly extinguished by firefighters. The cost of damage is unknown.