On May 15th, 2012 at approximately 1745 hours, a 53 year old female, who requires the use of a wheelchair due to a significant medical condition, was crossing 6th avenue at 7th street in New Westminster.
It was at this time that a male suspect came up behind her and began violently pushing her wheelchair swerving across the road, apparently while laughing. The victim observed the suspect rummage through her purse, which was slung on the back of her wheelchair, eventually removing and stealing her wallet. The suspect then fled on foot, abandoning her at the roadside.
Fortunately this incident was observed by a number of citizens, one of whom was on off-duty New Westminster Firefighter. These citizens chased the male into Moody Park, where he was observed to meet up with a female. The citizens attempted to detain the male but he was able to flee, as did the female.
NWPD patrol officers responded to the scene and located the male suspect as he attempted to hide in a local business. The female was also located and taken into custody however the wallet was not found.
NWPD investigators have liaised with the Transit Police and it is not believe this was one of suspects involved in the robbery of a wheelchair bound victim near Metrotown the day previous.
Michael James STARBLANKET, a 28 year old New Westminster resident, has now been charged with one count of robbery and one count of obstructing a police officer. STARBLANKET remains in custody and his next court appearance is set for May 23rd at New Westminster Provincial Court.
In this particular set of circumstances it is understandable how members of the public would be so disgusted they would feel compelled to get involved, and the NWPD would like to acknowledge those citizens that assisted in apprehending this suspect. In general however, the NWPD would encourage members of the public to become active witnesses and contact 911 as opposed to becoming directing involved in incidents of violence due to unknown level of risk they may face.