Auntie Says...

Brazen Murder of Teen on Public Transit Makes me Sick

For many years, I worked within the Canadian criminal justice system, and the realities of crime and violence are not new to me.

After hearing of the stabbing murder of 17 year old Ethan Bespflug on a transit bus in Surrey, B.C., I felt I couldn’t move forward without sending condolences and acknowledging the reality of this unabashed public murder.

We’ll often hear it is a “tragedy”, but that word doesn’t begin to soothe his family or lessen the blow.

A tragedy implies misfortune or bad luck–that’s not what this was. This was intentional and shameless. (picture source: CBC site)

Ethan texted his mom just before the incident to tell her that he didn’t feel safe.

As a mom, I can’t even imagine. The idea of knowing your baby is in danger and not being able to do anything about it in real time. That is a parent’s worst nightmare.

It seems too often that these stories appear and then fade away after the initial shock.

The reality is that a young man will never have the opportunity to live his life and a family is grieving his loss.

Something really needs to change.

This most recent attack happened not far from where I grew up.

As a teen I rode the buses all the time and never once felt threatened. Naive perhaps, but I made it out the other side.

For years, Canadians have watched the gun carnage down in the United States. Many, myself included, have shaken my head and said…why don’t they do something? Sanctimonious, no more, I’m now asking the same question of the authorities and government officials here.

Like seriously. What the hell is going on?

Blaming mental health seems to the pick of the day. It’s easy. Convenient. And often true. But there’s more at play.

Within our post pandemic world, everything escalates so quickly and seems extreme in nature.

SIDEBAR:(Hmm… is it post pandemic? I’m going to have to think about that. Is it since the advent of the world wide web? social media? video games? When did the violence get this –commonplace?–Please feel free to answer… I’d love to hear your opinion.)

I have no answers, only questions.

In this case, the attacker has been caught and charged with murder. It’s also been ascertained that the attack was not in fact random, as first thought, but the victim and perp had previous knowledge of each other.

I’m sure more information will come out, but it won’t change the outcome.

Just like our neighbors to the south, we mourn the loss of innocence for so many youth who witness untold horrors at such a young age.

As I write this post, I wonder if it’s worth it. I have no answers. A family has lost their precious son and brother and time can never be reversed.

While my words or post may not impact the world, I couldn’t however, not acknowledge the change in our societal tolerance of violence and the breakdown, not of family or mental health, but of empathy and understanding.

Everyone seems so far removed from the reality that plays out at such a common and rapid pace that it becomes rote. THAT is what makes it even sadder and more tragic.

To Ethan’s family. My sincerest condolences at your loss. There are simply no words.


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2 thoughts on “Brazen Murder of Teen on Public Transit Makes me Sick”

  1. Absolutely heartbreaking when a young person dies, and so awful when it’s a result of violence. I just wanted to point out that the violent crime rate in Canada hasn’t had a significant increase recently. And generally crime rates are down from what they were in the 90s. (I wanted to post an image of a graph, but I don’t see how to so that. Hopefully you see chart 2 on this page: Lower down the page, they talk about the effect of the pandemic on crime rates.)

    1. Hi Zena. Wow. That’s a lot of stats. Unreal–I really thought there’d been an increase in violent crime. It seems that there’s a stabbing or random stranger attack every time you turn on the news (a good reason not to watch it). This particular incident really struck me in the gut. The young person wasn’t part of a gang or anything but through reasons we may never know he was targeted. My high school that I graduated from is about a km away and I used to hang out in that area. Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge and stats. It does alter my perception and learning truths is always a good thing. xo

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