B.C. man dies after allegedly being punched in Starbucks over a cigarette butt
Kensington Square Starbucks at Hastings Street and Kensington Avenue. (Google Maps)
A 22-year-old man has died after an altercation inside a Burnaby coffee shop last month.
The July 12 incident at the Kensington Square Starbucks at Hastings Street and Kensington Avenue was initially handled by Burnaby RCMP, but was handed over to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team after Michael Page-Vincelli died in hospital on July 15.
The altercation appears to have revolved around an improperly discarded cigarette butt. According to a witness, after Page-Vincelli saw a woman toss a cigarette out the window of a vehicle, he picked it up and threw it back to her.
A witness told CTV News that Page-Vincelli "got very aggressive towards her." Just five days earlier, a state of emergency had been declared in British Columbia due to wildfires in the Interior, shining a spotlight on smokers, many of whom become inadvertent fire-starters by discarding cigarette butts carelessly.
Page-Vincelli headed inside the Starbucks while the woman went inside a nearby bank. Reports said she soon emerged with a man. The pair followed Page-Vincelli into the Starbucks, where the man delivered a punch, according to witnesses.
After being knocked unconscious from the surprise blow, it is believed that Page-Vincelli hit his head on a counter as he fell.
Burnaby RCMP was called to the scene and arrived to find Page-Vincelli bleeding on the floor of the coffee shop. He was taken to hospital, where he died three days later, at which point the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team took over the case.
"IHIT investigators are diligently pursuing leads and advancing the investigation," said IHIT spokesperson Cpl. Meghan Foster. "From evidence retrieved to date, investigators believe there are no concerns relating to public safety."
No charges have been laid in Page-Vincelli's death at this time, and the names of those involved won’t be released until charges are approved.
Police have been criticized for taking nearly a month to release any information about the homicide, with many, including a spokesperson for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, saying the public had a right to know sooner.
According to a statement, IHIT only releases information to the public to address public safety, further the investigation or solicit help from the public, and "none of these applied."
A small memorial with Page-Vincelli's photo, cards and notes has sprung up outside the Burnaby Starbucks. It is believed to have been placed there by the young man's family.