Suspect arrested in mugging at Vancouver cathedral
Published Friday, August 3, 2007 10:20PM EDT
Vancouver police have made an arrest in the vicious mugging of an elderly man after he handed $5 over to a panhandler for the fifth consecutive day.
"This poor fellow has been taken advantage of, it sounds like more than once, and this is just an awful thing to do to an elderly fellow that's really fragile," Father Glenn Dion of Holy Rosary Cathedral told CTV News.
Darcy Lance Jones, 43, has been charged with one count of robbery, Vancouver authorities announced on Friday.
The 79-year-old victim was entering the Holy Rosary Cathedral when he noticed a panhandler inside, police said in a statement issued on Thursday.
He had given the panhandler $5 every day for four consecutive days. However, on the fifth day, he was running late for the morning service and said he would catch him on his way out.
After the morning service, Jones was there waiting for him. Police say the senior handed over $5 as promised, but the panhandler became angry when he decided it wasn't enough.
"I'm to understand that (Jones) touts himself as a bit of a professional panhandler," Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Howard Chow told reporters. "He's well known in the area and he is known to police."
The grainy black-and-white footage shows the senior being viciously pushed to the ground. Police say he was then robbed of all the cash in his wallet.
The victim, a former surgeon identified as Peter Collins, suffered an injury to his hip but didn't require hospital treatment.
Dion described Collins, who has been attending service at the church for 30 years, as a man who mostly keeps to himself. Collins attends the morning mass every day, Dion said, and sometimes comes back for the afternoon service.
"His persona around here is a quiet prayerful fellow that's just a little bit in his own world," he told CTV British Columbia. "This is one of his favourite places to be."
Homelessness and drugs are rampant issues in the neighbourhood. A caretaker at the cathedral said he'd seen Jones around as well, as he's been loitering in the area for years.
"He comes here regularly over years, he comes off and on," said the caretaker who identified himself only as Victor. "Sometimes he shows up for a couple of months and disappears."
The community and police are in shock over the heartless crime and say this is one victim who really didn't deserve it.
"He's alone, he lives alone and he's charitable," said Dion. "He gives money to lots of causes and people. He doesn't have much, but has some that he shares."
These types of incidents have prompted Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan to launch Project Civil City, aimed at tackling public disorder problems in time for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Sullivan said the initiative will continue long after the games are done.
"This initiative aims to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness," Sullivan said in a press release describing the project. "In addition, we must direct our attention to cracking down on crime, including tackling property crime and aggressive panhandling."
With a report from CTV's Todd Battis in Vancouver