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Man charged in assault on B.C. Crown prosecutor near Vancouver courthouse

A file photo of B.C. Provincial Court at 222 Main St. in Vancouver. (Provincial Court of British Columbia - image credit)
A file photo of B.C. Provincial Court at 222 Main St. in Vancouver. (Provincial Court of British Columbia - image credit)

Charges have been laid in an apparently random attack on two women — including a B.C. Crown prosecutor — outside a Vancouver courthouse.

It comes just two days after the man accused had been released on bail on weapons charges, according to court records.

The man in his late 20s now faces two assault charges and is next scheduled to appear in court on Monday, according to provincial court documents filed under a case number provided by Vancouver police.

Friday's assaults sparked concern from the premier, who said he's asking the attorney general to look into the matter.

The association representing Crown prosecutors, meanwhile, says the violence should be the impetus to consider moving the court's location.

Police say the attacks happened near Hastings and Columbia streets around 9 a.m. Friday, close to a provincial courthouse located at 222 Main St.

Premier David Eby said Friday afternoon he was "profoundly disturbed" by the attacks, in particular that a provincial Crown prosecutor was among those assaulted.

The premier said on Friday he was told the prosecutor attacked received medical care, although police did not have an update on her condition as of Saturday.

"I don't care if you're a Crown counsel, a defence lawyer, a judge, a sheriff or a clerk — [for] our justice system to work, [it] needs to ensure the people who run it are safe," he told reporters at an unrelated press conference Friday afternoon.

The premier said he will ask Attorney General Niki Sharma to look into what the province can to do to "increase safety" for all employees working in B.C.'s court system.

"Although the investigation is in its early stages, it appears the assaults were random," a Vancouver police spokesperson told CBC News in an email. "We don't believe the suspect and victims knew each other."

According to court records, the man arrested was also facing unrelated charges of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, stemming from a Dec. 2 incident for which he was released on bail on Wednesday.

B.C. United MLA Elenore Sturko alleged in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter, it was another example of what she called the province's "catch and release justice system" on Friday.

"Disturbing to learn of this random attack on two women, including a Crown prosecutor," the Surrey South MLA said.

Move the courthouse, association says

On Monday, the association that represents 500 prosecutors in B.C. said it wants the province to move Vancouver's provincial courthouse.

Adam Dalrymple, president of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association, said safety in and around the courthouse on Main Street can no longer be ensured for those accessing the justice system there.

"It is time to speak out and have a public discussion about the permanent closure of that provincial court and the relocation to a safer place in the city, which is accessible not only for our people, our prosecutors and other court users, [but also] most importantly the people we serve, victims of crime, vulnerable witnesses and the civilians," he said.

Eby said at an unrelated media event on Monday that the government is not currently considering relocating the courthouse.

Dalrymple said the province had previously implemented measures to have security guards accompany court workers into the courthouse and that a guard was with the prosecutor at the time of Friday's attack.