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'Chaos' in Kitchener park as fireworks shot at large crowd and police

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A 14-year-old is facing charges after fireworks were shot at people in a Kitchener park on Victoria Day.

Waterloo Regional Police received ‘numerous’ calls from the public, around 7:25 p.m. Monday, about a dangerous disturbance.

They said hundreds of people had gathered in Victoria Park and some started setting off fireworks at each other, as well as others in the park.

“My understanding is that there were bystanders walking throughout the park,” said Const. Chris Iden. “Obviously, it was a beautiful day and people were enjoying the weather. But some people did report having fireworks shot at them.”

They weren’t the only targets.

“Police were met with the group and they were blocking the roadways, preventing officers from getting there, as well as the group was launching fireworks towards police cruisers and the officers,” Iden added.

People running down a Kitchener street and shooting fireworks on May 21, 2024. (Source: Harold Russell/Facebook)

Some people were also seen running down the streets in an attempt to avoid the fireworks.

“Shooting them up the road, up the road and out on the road,” recalled one neighbour the next day. “Shooting at my cars.”

Source: Dominique Whelan/Facebook

Jitender Sing, with Checkmate Security, was working in the park at the time of the incident.

“They were throwing at each other, the firecrackers, and everyone was running out,” he said. “It was total chaos.”

Sing saw one family flee when the fireworks got too close.

“It went over to the family and they started running for their lives,” he explained.

Fireworks left behind in Kitchener's Victoria Park on May 21, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)

“Thankfully, there were no reports of any physical injuries,” said Iden.

It took more than four hours for the 19 police and bylaw officers to finally disperse the crowd.

One teen was arrested and charged with assault and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

“It is an ongoing investigation and we are asking for anybody with information, specifically anybody with video of the incident, to get in touch with our regional police or Crime Stoppers for anonymous tips,” Iden said.

Mayor responds

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic issued a statement about the incident Tuesday, on behalf of Kitchener council.

It said, in part: “I am deeply concerned by the level of reckless hooliganism experienced from a significant group of young people in Victoria Park and on surrounding streets yesterday evening. The unsanctioned gathering quickly escalated into a situation marked by unsafe and violent behaviour, including the inappropriate use of fireworks. These actions were unacceptable and posed significant risks to public safety. The unauthorized use of fireworks not only endangered those present, but also caused undue stress and harm to our community.”

Fireworks left behind in Kitchener's Victoria Park on May 21, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)

Vrbanovic went on to praise the response from bylaw and security teams, as well as emergency services.

“As a result of this event, I have asked our staff to debrief both internally, and with our community emergency service partners on the events of yesterday evening, and to investigate what steps can be taken to prevent such incidents from occurring again,” he added. “This could include working closely with community leaders and organizations, including our local school boards and other youth-based organizations to educate our youth on the dangers of such dangerous behaviours.”

- With reporting from Jeff Pickel

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