‘Like a pack of wolves’: Clashes involving teens with bats raise concerns for west London neighbourhood

Residents of a northwest London neighbourhood say they’re concerned after two clashes this week between groups of teens — a few wielding baseball bats — in the green space behind Emily Carr Public School. 

Police say they investigated two incidents at the school — one on Monday, the other Tuesday — in which two groups of teens who knew each other were involved in fights near the school. One of the incidents resulted in minor injuries but no charges were laid. 

Kyle Laird witnessed and tried to stop the Tuesday evening incident, but said it was more of a group attack against one teen than a fight between two groups.  

He and his wife were walking their dog through the park near dusk when he saw a group of about eight to 10 teens surrounding a single teen who appeared to be about 15 years old. 

Laird told CBC News that two of the teens in the surrounding group were holding either bats or tactical batons. The teen being encircled was also holding a bat, he said.

‘Like a pack of wolves’

Laird, who stands more than six feet tall and weights 250 pounds, expected the incident to stop when he ran over and stood between the teen being targeted and the larger group surrounding him. However, he said the attack continued. 

“They were yelling and screaming, and punching each other,” said Laird. “I got in between them, got the largest kid to back up. Then I told the younger boy to get behind me that was being attacked. Then, as soon as I got the biggest kid away, then another kid would come around from another side to take a shot. It really felt like a pack of wolves.”

Eventually another adult intervened, police were called and the group dispersed before police arrived. Laird said the teen who was targeted appeared to have suffered a cut to the face from a punch. 

As for the incident on Monday evening, Cindy Murray told CBC News she was at the school’s playground with her preschool aged daughter when she saw four teenaged boys walking by, three carrying metal baseball bats. 

Murray said the boys went around to the other side of the school where she couldn’t see them, but she could hear them yelling and making noise. 

“They were hitting their baseball bats against what sounded to me to be the school,” she said. 

She didn’t see a fight but said after the boys left she found a large carving knife lying in the grass. She disposed of it and called police after she got home.

News of both incidents spread quickly across neighbourhood Facebook pages. 

Murray said the reports are troubling to hear about as a parent and resident of the area. 

“I came home after I found the knife and said to my husband ‘I don’t feel safe with a knife being at the school of a playground where my daughter is going to be attending in September.'”

London Councillor Josh Morgan said he’s hopeful that police patrols in the White Hills neighbourhood will allay concerns about the incidents at the school and  Nor’west Optimist Park, which culminated in a particularly violent incident earlier this week.

“There’s a lot of concern and angst in the community about these activities happening at what is a very well-used public park by kids of all ages,” he said.

Morgan and his family regularly use the park and he told CBC News he believes it remains a safe space for families.

Members of the London Police met with neighbours on Thursday night, Morgan said, and will continue to do so in the coming days to let them know they take their concerns seriously and are investigating.

Morgan is encouraging people to look out for another at the park and around the school, and to call the police if necessary.


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