Monday, February 26, 2007

Carnegie guard smashed in face

Something went wrong on Saturday when Peter and Ken, two City of Vancouver Security guards at the Carnegie Centre, were escorting a guy out of the front of the building. The man had a bottle of SoBe orange drink in his hand and suddenly turned and rammed it into Peter's forehead.

Peter was bleeding profusely, just above the eyebrows. The bottle had not broken but the narrow end of it had cut his face. “There was a lot of blood,” one of the many witnesses at the front of the building said.

Peter and Ken held the assailant down. A bystander with grey hair jumped in to help, using his feet to hold down the guy's hands. Back-up security raced to the scene from other areas in the building.

As the police were arriving to pick up the assailant, who by this time was being held down by four men, one holding his feet, Peter kicked him in the head. The grey-haired bystander intervened but Peter kicked the assailant in the head a second time. The bystander then stood between the two men as a police officer approached. A woman watching from the sidelines recalls that although Peter kicked the assailant as hard as he could, he was too far away to have a serious impact: He just managed to tap him with his foot, she explained, “not hard enough to really hurt him”.

"Peter could have been in shock when he was kicking him", the woman added. "He could have had a concussion." At times, witnesses say, Peter was hollering, "Get an ambulance! Get an ambulance! When's the ambulance coming?"

A bystander picked up the bottle that had been used as a weapon, gripping it from the top with a bag over his hand. A police officer put it in his car.

Peter's glasses were found on the ground and returned to him.

Peter, who has worked as a Carnegie guard for several years, has just returned from a suspension from his job. “He flipped out and kicked the door,” a witness says of the suspension. The witness is not sure, though, whether Peter kicked the door before or after he was suspended.

Despite his conduct on these two occasions, the predominantly white and native membership at Carnegie seem to like Peter, a 30-something native. “He's not a power tripper,” said a white woman who goes to Carnegie regularly. Even street people gathered around the front door of Carnegie watching the incident seemed to be sympathetic to Peter, despite the fact that it is his job to keep them away from the building when they are using or selling drugs. They were calling out: “We'll get him later, Peter. We'll fix him."

An ambulance arrived. Peter ended up with a few stitches. He hasn't been seen at Carnegie since.

One witness thought the police were a little slow in arriving to take the assailant off the hands of Security guards. Roughly ten minutes, despite a strong police presence in the neighbourhood.

This assault comes at a time when Carnegie Security are grumbling about staffing cuts. They are particularly upset that extra security guards are no longer on duty during dances in the Carnegie theatre or on welfare day, times when there is more likely to be trouble.

Cuts to Security are being influenced by Carnegie Assistant Director, Dan Tetrault. Yet critics say that it is Tetrault or other managerial staff, in what they believe to be a top heavy bureaucracy at Carnegie, who should be cut. Director Ethel Whitty's name comes up regularly in this regard. She makes $104,000 a year, just $18,000 less than the Mayor. In recent months, she has been busying herself attempting to hunt down and bar people who dare to write about Carnegie inefficiencies on the internet. She is viewed as a woman with too much time on her hands.