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Man charged in Vancouver stabbing was on probation

Vancouver police officers arrest a 46-year-old man following unprovoked attacks that sent two people to hospital on Wednesday. (CBC - image credit)
Vancouver police officers arrest a 46-year-old man following unprovoked attacks that sent two people to hospital on Wednesday. (CBC - image credit)

Days after his release from a provincial jail for threatening to kill Canada's deputy prime minister, a Vancouver man with a history of mental illness is behind bars again — accused of stabbing a stranger in the heart of the city.

Vancouver's mayor joined Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer Thursday afternoon to announce charges of assault against Kent Douglas Meades, a 46-year-old who was on probation at the time of the attack.

Palmer said the 61-year-old victim of the stabbing was released from hospital after being seriously injured, but "the emotional trauma will likely remain for a long time."

"The victim and the suspect in this case are total strangers to each other," Palmer said.

"I want to acknowledge the concern and fear that some people may have ... What we're learning is concerning."

A series of attacks

According to court documents obtained by CBC, Meades was sentenced in December to 148 days in jail after being found guilty of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to Chrystia Freeland in August 2023 in a case investigated by the RCMP's national security team.

Meades was also charged — but not convicted — with threatening RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme at the same time.

Nav Rahi/CBC
Nav Rahi/CBC

At Thursday's news conference, Palmer said Meades had returned to Canada in 2022 from Thailand, where he ran afoul of the law by breaking into a bank and overstaying his tourist visa.

Shortly after his return, he was charged with threatening a number of family members. He was sentenced for those offences at the same time he was sent to jail for threatening Freeland.

The police chief said Meades was released from jail six days ago. The terms of his probation prohibited him from possessing any weapons and from making contact either in person or by email with nearly a dozen family members.

Meades allegedly failed to report to his probation officer Wednesday and Palmer said he is now being investigated in connection with a series of seemingly random incidents that played out around the downtown core in the hours just before lunch when the stabbing occurred.

At around 8:40 a.m. police received a report of a man being attacked by a stranger. Following that they got another report of a man entering a coffee shop and causing a disturbance — a window was broken.

A short while later, another victim allegedly claimed he was chased by a stranger who lunged at him with a knife.

Meades was taken into custody at 11:53 a.m.; he has since been charged with assault and uttering threats.

Palmer said he expects more charges to follow.

'We can't simply arrest our way out'

The stabbing incident occurred metres away from an international school and the stadium where Taylor Swift will bring her Eras tour next December.

The location is also a short walk to the Downtown Eastside.

The attack is one of a number of unprovoked attacks that have made headlines in recent years.

Nav Rahi/CBC
Nav Rahi/CBC

Mayor Ken Sim told reporters that citizens should know council understands their anxiety and concern.

"Every person who calls Vancouver home, visits our city or who simply wants to enjoy our public spaces deserves to feel safe and secure," Sim said.

"The safety of Vancouverites, visitors and tourists is non-negotiable."

Sim, who came into office following a campaign centred around growing concerns for public safety, noted that despite the gravity some of the recent attacks there had been "no fatalities when there easily could have been some."

He went on to stress "historic investments" his council has put into the Vancouver Police Department — stressing resources for mental health teams.

Sim took the opportunity to call on the federal government to make changes to the Criminal Code to help police deal with what he called a "mental health crisis that requires an all hands on deck approach."

"This is something we can't simply arrest our way out of," he said.

"There are people on the streets that should be in treatment, they should be in recovery and in some cases, they should be in jail."

WATCH | Witness describes scene of 'serious assault' in downtown Vancouver: 

Witness Ron Festejo told CBC News the stabbing incident was "shocking."

"I saw lots of people just all of a sudden scrambling to run," he said in an interview on Wednesday.

VPD's Major Crime Section continues to investigate the incident, and is asking for anyone with more information on the case to contact them.

None of the charges against Meades have been proven in court.