The game is still underway, but a comeback seems impossible now that the Vancouver Canucks are down 4-0 on the Bruins’ empty-net goal. Fans are streaming out of the downtown fan zones, but some young people are ready for trouble. Police detain a teenager screaming, “Let’s break windows” in front of the London Drugs on Granville Street.
The game ends, and angry viewers in the Georgia Street fan zone throw glass bottles and other projectiles at the giant TV screens. People begin burning Boston Bruins flags and jerseys while shouting “F*** Boston.” Some young men are already carrying signs reading “Riot 2011.”
Crowds tip over a car in front of the post office on Georgia Street and rioters start jumping on the overturned vehicle and hacking at it with blunt objects.
A young man jumps off the Dunsmuir Street viaduct and is taken to hospital in critical condition. Police later debunk rumours that he was a Boston Bruins fan pushed to his death by angry Canucks boosters.
People begin tipping over porta-potties and the first injuries are reported as numerous fist fights break out. The overturned car on Georgia Street has now been set on fire, and the black smoke can be seen in other parts of the city.
Police start making arrests and officers armed for a riot form a line, only to be forced back by the unruly mob. People are throwing shoes and bottles are the officers’ shields.
Still outside the post office, rioters turn their attention to a truck parked in the street, rocking it back and forth before finally forcing it over. Hooligans are lighting fires in trash cans and dumpsters, setting off small explosions in some places.
Rioters smash in windows at the Bank of Montreal branch at Georgia and Homer streets. In another part of the city, a crowd smashes in the windows of a Hummer, toss in pieces of wood, and light the vehicle on fire.
Eyewitnesses report that the mob has flipped over a police car at Nelson and Granville streets and are smashing windows at a nearby pizza shop. People pose for pictures in front of two burning police cruisers.
Reports begin to come in that police are using pepper spray in an attempt to control the mobs.
Vancouver Police Department spokesman Const. Lindsey Houghton downplays the extent and severity of the riots.
“This is not 1994 all over again. We still see, by and large, the large majority of people are still in good spirits,” he says. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen that group of people in downtown Vancouver trying to cause trouble.”
Drunk crowds are tipping over cars throughout the downtown core before setting them ablaze. Fires start billowing out of parking garages. Newspaper boxes and trash cans are tossed in the streets as crowds form around the vandals, taking pictures with their cell phones.
Main bridges into downtown, including those on Granville and Cambie, begin to close in an effort to prevent the riot from growing.
VPD Const. Jana McGuinness denies that police have lost control of the situation.
“People have gone to great lengths to damage our fine city,” she tells CTV News. “We didn’t invite 100,000 people downtown without a plan.”
Police call in the dog squad as pockets of violence emerge throughout downtown. Vicious fights break out between the rioters and some even start attacking the police.
Crowds start to form outside The Bay near the intersection of Seymour and Georgia streets in an omen of some of the worst rioting still to come.
TransLink shuts down all bus service in downtown Vancouver and announces that SkyTrains and SeaBuses will only run away from the heart of the action.
St. Paul’s Hospital is on Code Orange lockdown, but staff have set up a triage station outside to treat stabbing victims, people with broken limbs and those who have been hit with pepper spray.
The VPD calls in reinforcements from the RCMP and nearby municipal police departments to help handle the chaos downtown.
Rioters set a car on fire outside The Bay and crowds of young people are dancing around the flames.
Windows are smashed in at a dollar store near The Bay and the looting begins.
Mayor Gregor Robertson issues a statement expressing his disappointment in the rioters, but insisting that the damage has been done by a “small number of people intent on criminal activity.”
Another car — a BMW — is set on fire outside The Bay. The crowd eggs on a young man who tries to jump over the blaze; he falls into the flames for a painfully long moment, but jumps out and takes a bow, apparently unscathed.
A few Good Samaritans try to stop the mob as people begin smashing windows at The Bay, but they are overpowered. Looters begin streaming out of the department store carrying stolen merchandise.
After two hours of trying to break down the glass doors and security gate, looters finally kick in the doors at the London Drugs at Granville and Georgia. An estimated 200 people carry out anything they can grab, including canisters of Pringles, armfuls of umbrellas, high end cosmetics, laptops and expensive SLR cameras.
B.C. Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond weighs in, calling the situation “shocking” and “disappointing.”
Lines of riot officers move in on the crowd near The Bay, armed with pepper spray and flash bangs to scare the rioters.
An embarrassed Robertson speaks with reporters, condemning the “hooligans” responsible for the riot.
“It’s a bunch of angry young man who are fighting, smashing things, lighting cars on fire,” the mayor says. “It’s absolutely shameful and disgraceful and in no way represents the City of Vancouver.”
Looting has shifted to the Sears and Chapters stores at the corner of Howe and Robson streets. Onlookers are still hanging around taking photographs of the troublemakers, claiming that they aren’t able to make their way out of the downtown core. Another dumpster is on fire on Robson Street.
The crowd at Howe and Robson shows little sign of dispersing and fist fights are still breaking out as looters flow in and out of stores.
11: 15 p.m.
Police holding batons and shields make a show of force at Granville and Robson streets. The officers move slowly toward the crowd of rioters, but don’t appear to intervene directly.
The crowd begins moving up Howe Street toward Georgia, but some rioters are still confronting riot officers and provoking police dogs.
The last remnants of the riot appears to break up and those remaining downtown begin trickling out of the heart of the city.
Vancouver Police say they made nearly 100 arrests on Wednesday night: 85 for breach of peace, eight for public intoxication and just eight for criminal code offences, including break and enter, assault and theft. Two people charged in connection with a stabbing appeared in court on Thursday.
Local hospitals treated nearly 150 people for various injuries. By Thursday night, four were still listed in serious condition.