Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stabbing Near McDonalds Leaves Boy, 13, Dead

Stabbing victim, Chris Poeung, died late last night in hospital. He was born Mar. 3, 1994 and was 13 years old.

Witnesses saw the suspect leave the scene of the stabbing and hop on the #19 bus. Police reportedly took him off the bus as it headed up Kingsway. There are reports that a second person was also taken into custody but released.

There were a total of four teenagers stabbed. Three had injuries that were not life threatening.

The following article was posted yesterday, shortly after I left the scene of the stabbing.

A teenage girl called her mother today and told her to come to the parking lot at Terminal & Main. Her brother, Chris Poeung, had just been stabbed.

It was about 5:15 or 5:20 p.m. I had just left McDonalds next door with a take-out coffee in my hand. I saw a swarm of Asian teenagers, both male and female, crossing the parking lot at Main & Terminal -- the parking lot kitty corner from the Pacific Central Station -- headed towards McDonalds. Some of the boys in the huge group were fighting. But it seemed to be over quickly.

Then I saw about three boys looking back as they rushed from the parking lot, at least one of them holding a cell phone. I got the impression that for them this fight wasn't over. But I really didn't pay much attention and kept walking.

Then I heard some girls in the parking lot screaming as they stood over an individual lying on the pavement. I went over to see if I could help. There was a pool of blood around a young Asian man in a white track suit. The white top of his track suit was soaked in blood. It was obvious that he had been stabbed near the heart. He had also been stabbed on the chin.

I told the victim to hang on, that an ambulance was on the way. I kept repeating that. I had read about an accident victim who said that having a person beside them reassuring them that the ambulance was on the way was helpful. The victim seemed to have almost lost consciousness, and by the time help arrived would be completely unconscious. One of the teenage girls standing near the victim's feet began crying, a scared sounding crying.

Later another woman passerby crouched down and put her hands on the sides of the victim's head and talked softly to him, continuously. Yet another woman passing by was on her cell phone to police saying, "I didn't realize that I had witnessed a stabbing."

A young woman with long dark hair who looked like a teenager came over. She said she was the victim's sister. She had apparently not witnessed the stabbing but may have been with the large group of teenagers as it took her just a couple of minutes to get to the scene. She screamed for a second when she saw the massive amount of blood that her brother was lying in. A couple of minutes later, she got on her cell phone and called her mother. She was crouched beside me as she made the call asking her mother to come to the parking lot across from the Main St. Skytrain station, saying, "Somebody's been stabbed." She must have been pressed to provide more information over the phone as she then stated in a calm voice that it was Chris who had been stabbed.

"The suspect", I would later hear a female police officer say into her phone, "goes to Tupper School." I believe the officer also identified him as "Thai."

Just a few seconds after I had arrived in the parking lot to see if I could help, I noticed a local mechanic, Garrett, on his knees by the victim. Garrett, a very young looking 43 year old originally from Winnipeg, works at a car repair shop nearby and drops into McDonald's almost daily to have coffee with local residents.

Garrett was using his bare hands to apply pressure over the wound by the victim's heart. He kept his hands there until the fire department paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later.

Later as he washed the blood off his hands with a cleansing gel police had given him, I asked Garrett, who I know from the McDonalds koffee klatch, "How did you know to do that?" He said he had taken a first aid course as "a form of self-improvement" two months ago out in Surrey where he has just moved. (He used to live on a boat behind McDonalds in False Creek, until all the boat squatters got evicted.) "That was good timing," I said.

It had seemed to take a long time for the paramedics to arrive: I would say 10-12 minutes, but I wasn't wearing a watch. And because everybody standing around was desperately waiting for the ambulance, time may have seemed to go slowly. The Vancouver Police were first to arrive, then the Fire Department paramedics, then the first of two ambulances. When the first police car arrived, I said to the female officer, "Where's the ambulance? We've been waiting ten minutes." She ignored me and looked at the victim.

The female police officer made the same call that a number of others had already made on cell phones, a request for an ambulance. She said into her phone, as she squatted by the victim's head, he was "not doing well." The officer then took over the job of talking to the victim. At one point, I thought the victim had died; he went completely still but then seemed to get a second wind and took a couple of deep breaths. I said to his sister, "You talk to him, he knows your voice." She leaned in toward him and started to speak but the police officer told her to move back and give him more space. The officer continued talking to him.

When the first paramedics from the Fire Department did get to the victim, three of them worked swiftly and calmly, putting a clear plastic mask over his mouth and cutting off his blood-drenched shirt. About five minutes later, the ambulance showed up. Then a woman showed up, who I believe may have been the mother of the victim. She stood outside the yellow police tape surrounding the scene and spoke to the sister.

A second victim, a young male with a bloody wound to his arm, sat on a curb in the parking lot near where the first had been laying. He was tended to by paramedics and may have been put in a second ambulance that arrived.

A young male police officer politely gave the order that nobody was to leave the scene. Police corralled everybody at the side of the parking lot, on the grass. They spoke to the sister and several witnesses, many of whom were teenagers. After about 10 minutes, police let me go as I had really not paid attention to the faces of any of those involved in the fight.

Garrett was still trying to get the blood off his hands. He pointed to the bottle of cleansing gel on the grass and asked, "Could you squirt more of that on my hands?"

A stocky, middle-aged firemen walked over to us and asked Garrett for his name, after the ambulance had left. The fireman commented that the victim had lost a lot of blood. He made a point of commending Garrett: "That kid has a chance because of you."