The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is calling for compassion after apparent members of the homeless community in Langley were killed or injured in early-morning shootings on Monday.
“We unequivocally condemn these acts of violence and hatred as they are in stark contrast to our community values,” the coalition said in a statement.
Before the 28-year-old Surrey man was killed by police, he shot four people – killing two and injuring two others – over the course of about five hours on the morning of July 25.
A Langley-area homelessness advocate told Black Press Media she believed two victims were people experiencing homelessness. Police are still investigating the motive of the shooter, but one male victim was killed at a supportive housing complex and a shopping cart full of belongings was at the site where a woman was shot and critically injured.
The coalition said it was saddened by the news and it’s holding the victims, their families, friends and the community in their hearts.
Several people experiencing homelessness in the Langley area told Black Press Media the fatal shootings represented an escalation of the harassment they already endure, and they were concerned there will be more incidents. One man said people have been posting pictures of homeless people on social media.
“The community’s been targeting homeless people for a while,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “What’s new is people are taking shots with bullets instead of their phones.”
The Greater Victoria coalition noted, “the misconception that people without homes are perpetrators, rather than victims of violence, contributes to both criminalizing homelessness and dehumanizing people without housing.”
The group called for the public to reject those narratives and put an end to the stigma surrounding people experiencing homelessness.
“Instead treat them as equals and neighbours, with compassion and empathy.”
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