Homeless mans murder in Vancouver hits nerve in city already dealing with violence

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - The disturbing killing of a wheelchair-bound homeless man in Vancouver has touched a nerve in a city already coping with an ever-bloodier gang war and the recent murder of a woman jogging through a local park.
Michael Ciro Nestoruk was found dead last Thursday outside a local elementary school. His body was discovered by parents dropping off their children for the day.
The 41-year-old had only one leg and was confined to a wheelchair.
"This has, I think, touched a bit of a nerve in the public and we certainly want to keep the public aware (of the investigation)," Const. Lindsey Houghton of Vancouver police said in an interview Monday.
Investigators have no leads and little information about what happened and are having difficulty piecing together what Nestoruk was doing in the hours before he died, said Houghton.
Nestoruk's death marks the city's 13th homicide of 2009, and the tally throughout B.C.'s Lower Mainland is higher.
Many of the killings are linked to gang violence that has grown exponentially since the new year - but not all.
Nestoruk's death happened less than a week after a woman was killed while jogging in a pristine, densely forested park near the University of British Columbia.
In Wendy Ladner-Beaudry's case, as in Nestoruk's, investigators have yet to reveal any theories about what happened and have raised the possibility that each could be simply random acts of violence.
In downtown Vancouver, several people wandering around on the holiday Monday said the recent violence - gang-related or not - is alarming.
"I feel safer in Toronto," said John Chow, 45, who lived in Ontario's capital city for 20 years before recently moving to Vancouver.
"When we hear it's committed against `civilians,' it's closer to home," said Chow, referring to violence not targeted at gangs or criminals.
Catherine Rauk, 47, agreed that the random attacks are especially frightening.
"It's scary to think that there's no safe place. Regardless of age, who you're hanging out with, there's an increased level of risk," said Rauk.
One woman who didn't want to give her name said simply, "It's hopeless," before walking away.
But not everybody has let the violence colour their opinion of Vancouver.
Howard Johnston, who lives near London, Ont., and was in Vancouver to visit his son, said it's simply part of living in a large city.
"I don't think it's any worse than any other of the major cities across the country that we hear about," said Johnston.
"It's something that goes with the population and we have to live with it. I don't see that it changes my mind in walking around Vancouver."
The concern about the bloodshed in Vancouver has reached far beyond the city, which is already under the microscope as it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics in less than a year.

Organizations: University of British Columbia

Geographic location: Vancouver, B.C., Toronto Ontario London, Ont.

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