British Columbia

Hundreds of teenagers turn on police during Canada Day celebrations

Hundreds of teenagers turn on police, punch officer in the face, during Canada Day party at West Vancouver's Ambleside Park.

Police say underage drinking at the heart of attack on officers patrolling Ambleside Park

The July 1 fireworks seen from West Vancouver's Ambleside Park. West Vancouver police say they struggled to contain sprawling, unruly crowds of teenagers when the Canada Day celebrations in Ambleside Park went sideways. (Cory Correia/CBC)

West Vancouver police say Canada Day celebrations turned ugly after officers tried to stop several large crowds of teenagers from drinking in Ambleside Park.

On Monday at around 8:30 p.m., officers were patrolling in the area when several groups of underage youths were found drinking in the park. Police say officers started seizing the alcohol and issuing violation tickets.

But about 20 minutes later, the crowds of teenagers had moved over to an area near the skate park where foot patrolling officers spotted youths continuing to drink.

Police say there were about 300 youths in total.

"There was hard alcohol. There were cans of liquor.  There were large bottles of spirits," said Const. Kevin Goodmurphy.

In an emailed statement, West Vancouver police wrote one of the youths charged at an officer after being questioned.

Officer charged, punched

Then there was a struggle.

That's when police say the crowds surrounded the officers and began chanting and using obscenities, while others stood by with phones recording the attack.

"I can tell you that there were many phones out at the incident itself, and I'm guessing there's probably a lot online."

Two officers were assaulted during the incident, one of whom was punched in the face. 

"It was a strike to the face, to the nose, which did draw blood. So it did cause bodily harm, but this officer wasn't injured to the extent that they needed to take any time off," said Goodmurphy.

Other officers were called in to help move the crowd to the beach area where the brawls continued.

 "As a result of that consumption of alcohol, some decided to make some poor decisions and turned violent toward some of our officers who were there managing and overseeing the large crowds that were there gathered to enjoy the fireworks on Canada Day."

Watch the fireworks on Canada Day:

Park, traffic shut down

The park was shut down while police tried to gain control of the crowds. The fighting then spilled over to Park Royal Mall where officers had to stop more violence.

Police believe the youths involved were from North Vancouver and range in age between 12 and 20 years old.

Two youths were arrested and released pending assault charges.

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