Homicide raises alarm at street-level

'The tone on the street has changed. . . . There's a level of street violence and aggression'

The death of 32-year-old Michael Irving Young, also known as Michael Hauk, under the Overlanders Bridge last Thursday has sent a shudder of fear through the street population.

Bob Hughes, executive director of ASK Wellness, said he knew Young, but didn't want to talk about him too much out of deference to his family.

"He has people who cared about him. For me, it's about the stereotype, the lost homeless guy nobody knew. This is far from that. . . . Behind that stereotype is the girl or the guy next door," Hughes said Wednesday.

"They all have stories and histories. There are always people who are rocked when you lose somebody."

Young's body was found around 7:40 p.m. under the north end of the bridge near the Rivers Trail. Police are still searching for witnesses who might have seen something, especially between 7:05 and 7:35 p.m. Thursday.

RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said anyone who spoke with Young in the days leading up to his death is also being sought.

Police believe the homicide was an isolated incident among the people involved and that there's no threat to the public, she said.

Hughes said for anyone who is living on the street or hanging out there, Young's death has had an impact.

"The tone on the street has changed. Every summer, there's always an influx of new people who are on the fringes of our community who are street involved, who are involved in sociable activities," he said.

"But what has struck me and our outreach team is the tone is so negative. There's a level of street violence and aggression.

"This doesn't mean we're in for a summer of tremendous violence, but there are some people coming through the community carrying a lot of aggression."

Kamloops gets a lot of transients coming through because of the correctional centre, detox facility and the highways passing through in all directions, Hughes said.

But homicides are rare.

"This one, a 32-year-old man in broad daylight was attacked and suffered a fatality as a result of that. That should be cause for concern for anybody who's associating with this population," he said.

"It's a cause of concern for staff. The tone has changed."

His staff travel in pairs when there are doubts, let someone know where they are, don't go into crack shacks in private locations. They have a good track record for staying safe.

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