VANCOUVER - Residents of a Vancouver apartment building, alerted by shouting and screams, locked their doors as a man stabbed people in what police believe was a completely random attack.
Seven residents and one police officer were injured in the highrise building in the city's West End during the attack Thursday night, and now Vancouver police have announced charges against the 33-year-old male suspect.
Charged with four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, three counts of common assault and one count of assaulting a police officer is Jerome Bonneric, said Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver police in a media release Friday night.
He said police believe Bonneric, who isn't known to them, was staying with a friend at the building, adding that Bonneric was arrested inside the building shortly after the attack.
"He was in the building before this started. They're looking today at why he was in there," said Fincham.
Police said the assailant went from floor to floor in the building attacking people in the hallways, apparently at random.
It is a "fairly significant crime scene and a lot of evidence to gather," Fincham said, adding that investigators are looking at whether mental health issues, drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the attack.
A resident of the building said he heard screaming shortly before 7 p.m. a few floors below his suite.
"I got out of my apartment to check what was going on in the courtyard and there was definitely a commotion. At this point we didn't really know the extent of the attack," said the man, who did not want his name published.
Police arrived and blocked off all the entrances, he said.
"(We) saw five people taken away on stretchers," he said. "I think at that point, when we saw them, it really hit us that this was serious."
There are children living on the ground floor, and he said he was relieved to find out none of them were harmed.
Police kept the building secured for some time, he said.
"After that we were just stuck there, some of our neighbours couldn't get into their units so we opened our doors for them to stay with us at least until they could get in," said the resident.
Another resident said she heard a commotion and thought a couple was fighting. Then she heard people running in the hallway outside her door.
"I didn't want to open the door. I didn't know what was happening," said the 61-year-old.
She gathered information from television and radio reports but had not spoken to police, through they remained in the building through the night.
Fincham said seven people were injured, six of whom were rushed to hospital with significant injuries.
One police officer was also treated at the scene for injuries suffered during the arrest.
Two victims remained in hospital late Friday night — one in stable and the other in very serious condition.
Bonneric will remain in custody until his next scheduled court appearance Monday at 9:30 a.m..
"We will be asking that he's not released back into the community," Fincham said.
Social media erupted Friday with discussion of the attacks, with many users expressing relief that the suspect did not have a gun. Fincham agreed.
"It appears this person used whatever tools he had access to, to do the damage that he did in that building," he said. "I'd hate to see how much damage would have been done if this person had access to a firearm."