Three teenage girls have been arrested and are facing charges in connection with the brutal beating of a 30-year-old man last Wednesday at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford.
The two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old, who cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, face charges of aggravated assault and will appear in court this week, said Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald.
He said the girls were among a group of about six people – also including a man in his 20s – who met up in Mill Lake Park. Some, or all of them, were drinking, and a dispute ensued.
MacDonald said the subject of the argument is in question, as “varying accounts” have been provided by people at the scene.
The three girls then allegedly turned on the victim, violently beating him.
The group fled the scene, and the victim was discovered by a passerby on the northeast side of Mill Lake near some benches.
MacDonald said the victim was in serious condition when emergency crews showed up on the scene at about 4 a.m., and was suffering from various injuries extending from his torso to his head.
“It was pretty serious. I think if (the beating) was sustained, we could have been facing a loss-of-life situation,” MacDonald said.
He said police have not confirmed what, if any, weapons were used. They have not yet been able to conduct an in-depth interview with the victim, but the man is expected to be released from hospital sometime this week.
MacDonald said police had also considered recommending robbery charges against the girls, because some of the man’s clothes had been removed during the assault, but those charges did not proceed.
He said the case is unusual both in its level of violence and in the age and sex of the assailants, but is not unique in another aspect.
“Regrettably, teenagers out in the middle of the night and consuming alcohol or drugs in the company of older people is not as unusual as we’d like.”
Within hours of the assault, postings on Facebook were identifying the alleged suspects and speculating about the motivation for the attack.
MacDonald said the suspects had already been identified by witnesses, but social media played a role in solidifying the case and adding to the evidence gathered by investigators.
He said it was surprising that apparent friends of the accused would be so blatant in posting their names online.
“It’s called the world-wide web for a reason.”
MacDonald said social media can be a useful tool for investigators, helping to confirm the circumstances surrounding a crime or pinpointing the witnesses or suspects involved.
“Some people are not aware that some of the comments they make (online) are ostensibly to the world … or they don’t care.”
Police are still asking that anyone with information come forward by calling the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.