The blinking neon ‘open’ sign was flashing in the window of Chilliwack’s District Public House Monday morning, but the only people going in and out were police officers.
The downtown pub was the site of a double-stabbing Sunday night, and Monday morning found the place surrounded by yellow police tape.
Evidence placards and tarps covered the ground near the entrance, and one officer sat in his car making sure the evidence remained undisturbed.
While forensics teams worked inside, pub owner Brad Stuart tried to make sense of the scene.
“It’s the last thing you want to happen in a pub,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard to make it a safe and fun environment, and all it takes is a few minutes to destroy that hard work.”
Stuart said it was just after 7 p.m. when two men came into the pub and went upstairs for a game of pool. About 20 minutes later, staff heard a ruckus. Then, they saw two men come downstairs and go outside, both covered in blood.
District staff immediately phoned 9-1-1, then phoned their boss, who lives a couple blocks away.
Stuart got there in time to see the stabbing victims being loaded onto stretchers.
“They had arrested a third guy, and they were looking for a fourth guy,” he said, though that has yet to be confirmed by police.
The victims were rushed to hospital.
Cpl. Len vanNieuwenhuizen said one of them is in serious condition, while the other sustained superficial wounds.
While none of his staff witnessed the actual stabbings, Stuart spent the next few hours trying to calm rattled employees.
“Everyone there, even the customers, are like family and this is like having it happen in your own home,” he said. “This is devastating. We’ve had a perfect record up to now, where we haven’t even had fights in the pub. We haven’t even had a noise complaint in the last year and a half. I don’t think any of the staff has ever had any concerns about being safe.”
Because it sticks out as a random incident and not a patter, Stuart said he will not be reactionary.
“We’ve built this place on being safe and sound, and I’m not going to be putting in metal detectors at the front door,” he said. “You can’t have security 24/7 and you have someone coming in for a pint of beer feel like they’re going on an international flight.”
Police had originally told Stuart his kitchen and cleaning staff would be allowed back in Monday morning.
As of 11 a.m. that wasn’t the case.
“They haven’t given us a timeline on that, but I’d like to get my people in to start with the prep work,” he said. “The lights were off once before, when I took the staff away for a party in January, and there were rumours that we’d closed down for good. In this business, people are always watching. So I’d like to get the lights on as soon as possible.”