Attempted stabbing at East Vancouver soccer field caught on camera, police investigating

Last Updated Oct 28, 2021 at 7:34 am PST

  • A referee intervened after a man was nearly stabbed, says he is not a hero but acted on instinct
  • Vancouver police say they have seen footage of the attempted stabbing, investigation is ongoing
  • The Vancouver Youth Soccer Association says the incident, while unprecedented, points to broader safety concerns

Soccer players and spectators in Vancouver were left shocked and shaken after a man was beaten and almost stabbed in the middle of a Saturday afternoon match, with one of the referees jumping in to stop the attack.

It happened at Trillium Park in Strathcona, during a men’s Vancouver Metro Soccer League game on the west field.

Video being shared online shows a man being chased by three other people, as players shout, “Get off the pitch” and ‘What the hell?!”

After the man is shoved to the ground, he was stomped on, repeatedly punched in the head by the others, before someone attempts to stab him.

That’s when referee Dieter Trenkel runs into the frame, shoving the two people who are still beating the man aside.

He tells CityNews he acted on instinct.

“I never thought about being in danger. I wasn’t frightened. The guy just needed help, right? And I just reacted,” he says.

“The players came in and they were trying to make like I’m some kind of hero. I just told them, ‘Look, man, this person needed help and no one else was helping. So, I did it.’ I’m not thinking I’m any kind of hero, I just had to go and do it because this poor guy was in a bad way.”

‘Very emotional and a little bit upsetting’

Meantime, club manager Babak Shahbazi who was on the east field noticed the commotion on the adjacent pitch.

“Nobody knew what was going on. Because they weren’t spectators, they weren’t part of the teams, they came in from somewhere else. There was a lot of confusion. Then Dieter just tackled — it was like a football tackle — a couple of them,” he says.

“They were saying, ‘He’s bleeding’ and because I manage the team I always have a first aid kit in my car, so I ran to the car, I jumped over the fence,” he says, adding when he got back he saw the man was injured.

“He had gashes on his face, on his ears, it was a very unfortunate situation. He was extremely shocked. I knew he was stabbed, I could see it but we couldn’t see where. I calmed him down. I said, ‘Just calm down, let me just clean up your face.'”

While Trenkel bristles at any praise for his actions, Shahbazi is applauding his response.

“He prevented a lot more serious injuries to the guy by what he did. Kudos to himfri, honestly, kudos to him for stepping in. Not many people will. He did. ”

The man was taken away in an ambulance, according to Shahbazi.

“You don’t see this, we are not trained. You don’t see this a lot in your daily life. It was very emotional and a little bit upsetting. I’m hoping that the gentleman is not hurt,” he says.

Police investigation ongoing

A spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department says they were called to the field late Saturday afternoon.

“I can’t confirm that the man was stabbed. He did not have serious or life-threatening injuries. This is an active investigation and we don’t yet know all of the circumstances,” writes Sgt. Steve Addison in an email, adding no arrests have been made and that the video circulating online has been provided to investigators.

Trenkel is still wondering how this could have happened

“The thing that frightened me about this whole thing, if anything, was that these people decided to do this in front of hundreds of people. Like what’s in your mind? Why would you do this in front of hundreds of people? You’re never gonna get away with this,” he says.

While Saturday’s incident was unlike anything Trenkel has ever seen at the field, he says there have been some issues with safety and thefts of gear at this particular location and nearby Andy Livingstone Park.

Youth soccer association raises broader safety concerns 

The Vancouver Youth Soccer Association also plays games in these locations, and a board member says youth teams were actually there earlier Saturday.

The association’s Darren Sherbot says there’s not a good enough plan to keep fields safe for kids, and they will be meeting with the Vancouver Park Board this week to discuss their concerns.

“Across the last year, anecdotally, issues seem to be increasing. And we have never seen an incident like this,” he writes in an email.

The group wants the board, the city, and the police to work together to address a number of issues.

“Across many of Vancouver’s sports fields, permit holders and parents have repeatedly reported a pattern of transient alcohol and drug use in the washrooms and near the fields, issues with discarded needles, and other crime. We understand this is a multifaceted issue associated with mental health, homelessness, and drug addiction,” he writes.

“However, there are some immediate measures that could be improved to increase the safety of these fields for our youth and other sports field users.”

They want to see a plan to get the people who are sheltering in park bathrooms into housing, and more patrols and cleaning of the washrooms themselves. Another request is for the lights to come on earlier, stay on for longer, and be repaired quicker.

The park board has provided a statement saying they are “aware of an altercation” and that they are working with police who are leading the investigation.