British Columbia

Surrey Creep Catchers sorry wrong RCMP officer named after ambush

A vigilante group claiming it caught an RCMP officer seeking teen sex is apologizing to an officer who had no involvement in the ambush but somehow got named as the suspect.

'I'd like to apologize ... trying to do a public service ... sometimes the public gets carried away'

Surrey Creep Catchers claim the officer they lured to meet a teen in Surrey, B.C. sent this image of himself to them before their encounter on Wednesday. (Twitter/Creep Catchers)

The man behind the Surrey vigilante group that claims to hunt predators by luring them into dates is apologizing to an RCMP officer mistakenly named as a target after an ambush this week

"I'd like to apologize to him and his family and hope that he will understand that we are trying to do a public service and that sometimes the public gets carried away," reads a Facebook post.

The group's Wednesday night ambush led to an arrest in Surrey by the RCMP.

"I never said his name ... and I have nowhere posted anywhere [his name] and I have nowhere condoned people posting that name," said Ryan Laforge, president of the Surrey Creep Catchers on Saturday.

Laforge said the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

He and other so called pedophile hunters became convinced that the suspect was a police officer based on images they say he sent to the "14-year-old" decoy who he'd been connecting with for a week and talking about sex.

On a Facebook video of the ambush, Laforge calls out an officer's first name as he approaches the suspect. 

That name was based on the suspect's Twitter handle, he said.

Ryan Laforge, president of Surrey Creep Catchers, sees himself as a protector and vows to keep hunting pedophiles. (Ryan Laforge/Creep Catchers/Facebook)

After the ambush, online supporters of the Surrey Creep Catchers began posting comments, several claiming to know the RCMP officer involved. 

But the name published in those comments was incorrect. 

Laforge said the name he spoke on the Facebook video of the ambush happens to rhyme with another RCMP officer's real name — an officer who had nothing to do with the entire situation.

"The apology is just what any human being would do for someone who was brought into something they are innocent for," said Laforge.

He is also appealing to the besmirched officer to forgive the group.

"I hope that given what we are doing is to protect the kids I would hope that there would be a little bit of understanding," said Laforge, who urged all followers to stop naming any specific officers.

"It makes us look bad," Laforge posted.

Although when asked if he fears the officer tarred unfairly might sue, Laforge is confident.

"He doesn't really have a leg to stand on. I never said his name once."

No fear of other mistakes, violence

Laforge insists there's no chance they would have hurt the suspect if they had caught up.

"Everybody gets excited and nobody likes to see a bad guy get away ... we are non-violent. I am very confident that nobody would breach it. The only way that anyone would breach it is if there was self-defense on our part," he told CBC Saturday.

In the U.K., targets of vigilante groups have turned on their confronters, and in one case an Essex man was stabbed to death by a teen vigilante gang who mistook the innocent father for a pedophile.

RCMP Inspector Tyler Svendson is asking for citizen-led child sexual predator capture groups like Surrey Creep Catchers to stop operating while the leader of the group, Ryan Laforge says it vows to continue. (CBC)

When asked about similar situations in other countries, Laforge insisted those scenarios are not a risk with his group.

He admitted there is always a chance of violence in any confrontation.

"We're dealing with the lowest of the low. We are dealing with just straight slime. Scum. So the chances of any of them getting violent is probably rare and I'm guessing that the outcome of their violence wouldn't turn out in their favour," said Laforge.

Emails handed over 

The Surrey Creep Catchers handed over 200 emails exchanged between the man they targeted and their decoy to RCMP.

So far police have had no more contact with the group.

Laforge said when they lure a target they make sure to say the age of the decoy female involved.

They reached out to police immediately after the ambush. RCMP responded to the scene.

Suspect officer now released from custody 

On Friday, RCMP announced that they had arrested a Mountie and an investigation into child luring and sexual exploitation allegations was ongoing. That officer's name has not been released.

On Saturday, RCMP confirmed he has now been released from custody with a series of conditions as a result of a judicial bail hearing.

An unidentified man flees after he's allegedly caught meeting a minor for sex. (Surrey Creep Catchers/Facebook)