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Five weekend attacks do not appear to be related: Vancouver police

Sergeant Randy Fincham, a police spokesman, said officers are investigating five new and serious files: a homicide, sex assault, shooting, stabbing and arson

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Vancouver police say the "alarming" number of violent incidents on city streets this past weekend was very rare and the attacks do not appear to be connected.

Sergeant Randy Fincham, a police spokesman, said officers are investigating five new and serious files: a homicide, sex assault, shooting, stabbing and arson.

"It's definitely alarming when you cluster all these incidents over the weekend together, a series of very violent incidents, very dangerous incidents, and we certainly will put the resources into them to try to solve them," he said at a news conference on Monday.

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Sgt. Fincham said violent crime has generally been on the decline, though Vancouver has seen an increase in sexual assaults over the past couple of years. The officer said that could be due to increased reporting.

None of the five incidents over the weekend appears to be related, and no arrests have been made in any of the cases, Sgt. Fincham said.

"We tend to keep pretty busy throughout the year, all weekends. And this weekend just had a very large series of violent offences," he said.

The homicide occurred after a fight at Main and Hastings that was observed by a police officer at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sgt. Fincham said. A 38-year-old man appears to have been targeted and died in hospital, he said. The victim's name has not been released.

It is the second homicide in Vancouver in 2016. The city had 15 homicides last year.

The sexual assault took place Friday night, near the intersection of West 48th Avenue and Oak Street.

Sgt. Fincham said a woman was grabbed by a stranger at about 11 p.m. while she was walking. She was able to fight off the man and he eventually ran away. The woman was not physically injured but was traumatized by the incident, the officer said.

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The suspect in the attack is described as being 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, with an average build.

On Saturday at about 1 a.m., police were called to Sexsmith Elementary School for reports of a shooting. Sgt. Fincham said some men in their 20s were outside the school when they were approached by two strangers. An argument ensued and the strangers fired gunshots.

One man was treated in hospital for a gunshot wound and has since been released. Sgt. Fincham said the incident does not appear to be gang-related.

Twelve hours later, a man was stabbed in the 2300-block of Eton Street after an argument with two other men and was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, Sgt. Fincham said.

He said he could not confirm reports that the man was a "binner" – a person looking for items to salvage from a garbage bin.

Michael Leland, who is part of the Binners' Project, which aims to reduce stigma around the practice, said he did not know the man who was stabbed. But he said binning can leave one vulnerable to physical or verbal abuse.

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"It doesn't matter where you are down here, it is dangerous," Mr. Leland, who has been a binner for 14 years, said in an interview.

At about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, an off-duty officer noticed a fire at the Villa Carital residential care facility. Sgt. Fincham said the fire originated at the care site, in a building adjacent to the living quarters, and that it appears to have been arson.

Anna Barbato, director of care at Villa Carital, said two of the facility's six units had to be evacuated. About 30 patients were temporarily moved to buses to keep warm, and were allowed back inside a couple of hours later, she said.

Ms. Barbato said she was "devastated" that the fire appears to have been caused by arson. "Who would even think of doing something like that?" she said in an interview.

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Based in Vancouver, Sunny has been with The Globe and Mail since November, 2010. More

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