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Fatal stabbing casts a pall over downtown Vancouver neighbourhood as court date set

VANCOUVER — The fatal stabbing of a 37-year-old father outside a downtown Vancouver Starbucks is casting a pall over the normally bustling block.
A woman pauses at a makeshift memorial for Paul Stanley Schmidt, 37, who died after being stabbed on Sunday outside a Starbucks in downtown Vancouver, on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Vancouver police say Inderdeep Singh Gosal, 32, has been charged with second-degree murder and investigators do not believe the suspect and victim knew each other. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — The fatal stabbing of a 37-year-old father outside a downtown Vancouver Starbucks is casting a pall over the normally bustling block.

Passersby were pausing Wednesday to pay their respects to Paul Stanley Schmidt at a makeshift memorial of flowers, pictures and notes outside the café.

Police have said he was stabbed around 5:40 p.m. Sunday after a brief altercation.

The accused, Inderdeep Singh Gosal, was arrested at the scene moments later when bystanders flagged down a constable patrolling the area, police said.

The 32-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder and a hearing has been scheduled in Vancouver provincial court on April 11.

A search of online court records shows no prior convictions for Gosal, while Const. Tania Visintin said Gosal "has had limited police interactions."

The killing was captured in a gruesome video shared on social media.

Guilherme Gomes, manager of the nearby Sciué Italian Bakery Caffé, said patrons seemed shaken by the stabbing witnessed by numerous bystanders.

"The vibe is everyone is scared, because it was so close to here, and this can happen here at any time," he said.

"This is just terrible. How can someone do that?"

Police have said they don't believe Schmidt and the suspect knew each other and the details of what led up to the stabbing are still under investigation.

Officers tried to save Schmidt, but he died after being rushed to hospital.

A GoFundMe page dedicated to Schmidt's family says he leaves behind a partner and a toddler. The fundraiser was set up by Lorraine Lowe, the executive director of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society of Vancouver, who knows Schmidt's cousin.

"This tragedy has impacted and sent shock waves of grief and heartache across the community, and it is emotionally gut-wrenching to fathom what his family had to witness in horror," Lowe wrote on the fundraising page.

Lowe said in an interview that she "made the mistake" of opening the video circulating online before realizing she knew the victim's cousin. 

"I couldn't sleep that night. I was trying to figure out ways to help this family," she said.

"You know what really broke me, was seeing that little baby girl's face," she said, referring to a photo of Schmidt's daughter.

Schmidt's Facebook page is filled with photos of himself and his young daughter.

Crime has been "rampant" in parts of downtown Vancouver in recent years, Lowe added.

"At first it was Chinatown, now I'm seeing it happening in Gastown, I'm seeing it happening in other areas downtown," she said.

"We need to make a change."

The Starbucks at the intersection of Granville and Pender streets reopened Wednesday after staff could be seen meeting inside.

Downtown business owners have been worried about rising threats of crime since the COVID-19 pandemic reduced foot traffic in the area, Gomes said.

The video posted on social media shows a struggle between Schmidt and another man outside the front door of the Starbucks while bystanders shout for police.

It shows Schmidt stagger back, apparently clutching a wound, then collapse to the ground, bleeding heavily.

The other man appears to check his phone and walk inside the Starbucks before briefly opening the door, looking at Schmidt on the ground, then returning inside.  

At the end of the video, the man can be seen looking at his phone, just inside the glass-walled Starbucks, with Schmidt lying motionless outside.

Schmidt's family, police and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim have asked people not to share images and video of the stabbing.

Sim called the situation "awful and tragic" in a post on Twitter, saying "nobody should ever feel unsafe walking around (our) city."

Sgt. Steve Addison said police believe dozens of people witnessed the stabbing, and they're looking to speak with anyone who has yet to come forward.

“We particularly want to hear from anyone who was present in the moments before the stabbing, or anyone who has cellphone video of the incident," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press