Andrea Woo, Surrey, B.C.— Globe and Mail, May. 25, 2012
Mounties have released surveillance images of an arsonist linked to a spate of fires and shootings throughout B.C.’s Lower Mainland, whose 14 victims to date are all affiliated with a school that trains police officers, paramedics and prison staff.
In the series of images, a man is seen dousing the home of former West Vancouver police chief Scott Armstrong, located in the 1000-block of Lawson Ave., with a liquid from a jerry can. He then ignites it and runs away as flames consume the front portion of the home.
The home has since been sold.
The arsonist has a slim build and is wearing a two-toned jacket, ball cap and light coloured belt. He is seen with a light coloured duffel bag.
That fire, set in the early hours of Jan. 13, is the latest in a series of fires and shootings at cars and residences, whose owners are all linked to the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
While police had previously said no one was injured in the attacks, B.C. RCMP spokesman Sergeant Peter Thiessen said Friday said “there has been a level of injury of one sort or another, without getting into the details of some of the occupants and property owners.”
Police released the video of the arsonist in efforts to identify him after having exhausted all other avenues, Sgt. Thiessen said.
“For investigative reasons, it wasn’t in the best interest of the investigation to release this footage (earlier),” he said.
“But we got to a point where it was becoming problematic in attempting to identify this suspect. … Releasing this type of information does have an impact on a criminal investigation, when down the road there may be a court case. This is clearly evidence that we’ve now shared out. That’s not something we want to do on a regular basis.”
Police are also looking for a suspect they have “good reason to believe may have sustained some burns to parts of his body as a result of setting a fire in Surrey on Nov. 2, 2011,” Sgt. Thiessen said.
“What we’re asking for is the public to contact us if they’re aware of someone in their family, a friend, co-worker, someone that may have sustained some level of unexplained burns in and around Nov. 2 of 2011.”
RCMP first announced the investigation in September, saying some victims were either current or former staff or students at the institute, while others were only loosely linked to the school.
In a December update, Mounties said the investigation had revealed a link to a female ICBC claims adjuster who allegedly accessed the personal information of 65 individuals, including the 13 victims up to that point.
The West Vancouver arson was the 14th.
The ICBC employee, a 15-year employee with an unblemished work record, was fired immediately, with no severance, ICBC spokesman Mark Jan Vrem said in December.
She remains a suspect and police are continuing to investigate her “for a variety of criminal offences,” Sgt. Thiessen said.
Police have notified the remainder of the 65 people.