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Newton residents anxious after brazen murder of hockey volunteer

Julie Paskall, 53, died Tuesday (Dec. 31) from injuries suffered after an attack outside Newton Arena Dec. 29. - File Photo
Julie Paskall, 53, died Tuesday (Dec. 31) from injuries suffered after an attack outside Newton Arena Dec. 29.
— image credit: File Photo

Newton residents are in fear for their safety, after a hockey mom was fatally beaten near a recreation centre.

At 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, 53-year-old Julie Paskall was waiting to pick up her 14-year-old son who was volunteering as a referee at a tournament near the Newton Ice Rink at 7120 136B St.

The longtime time-keeper with Surrey Minor Hockey was waiting in the parking lot when someone clubbed her in the head and beat her with a blunt object.

She died on Tuesday morning (Dec. 31).

Police believe the killer, who is still on the loose, may be the same person who attacked a woman getting off a bus at the Newton bus exchange on Dec. 16. The Surrey RCMP did not send out a public release about that attack because they didn't believe it was severe enough or represented a trend.

After Paskall's murder, Mounties are now warning to the public to be careful.

"Due to the circumstances of this tragic incident, we are asking the public to be extra vigilant," Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said. "It is important that people are aware of their surroundings when they are out and that they keep their valuables concealed. Walk with a friend whenever possible, particularly after dark."

The warning is doing little to calm the nerves of Newton residents.

Area resident Liz Walker said more needs to be done from a policing perspective, particularly by way of bike and foot patrols near the Newton bus exchange near 72 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

"We all have known the Newton exchange has been a dangerous area for years now," Walker said Tuesday.  She remembers some other serious incidents in Newton,  including the killing of Jamie Kehoe, who was stabbed on a bus in 2011, and the fatal stabbing of Devon Allaire-Bell near Frank Hurt Secondary the same year.

"You think about the families – I don't think you ever recover from those things," Walker said. "Now this family. You're speechless, because there's nothing she could have done differently."

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts agrees the Newton exchange has been a "problematic area for quite some time."

She said she has spoken at length with TransLink to ensure transit police are ready and aware of issues at the station. The city has also asked that the transit exchange be moved to the King George corridor, making it more visible to passing vehicles, and therefore safer.

Unfortunately, that's not going to be happening for a while, she said.

"Moving forward, we do have cameras at every facility," Watts  said. "If we need to have additional cameras fronting the street, then we'll do that."

She also said RCMP foot patrols were stepped up a couple of weeks ago, and will be further augmented until Paskall's alleged attacker has been arrested.

Newton blogger Laila Yuile said problems in the community began in 2008, when there were several shootings. The Newton Town Plan included public art and some beautification, but Yuile said most of the meaningful promises never came to fruition.

"Newton has not been forgotten," Yuile remembers Watts saying at the time.

"Nothing happened," Yuile said. "It's not a safe area."

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) continues to seek public assistance in helping determine who is responsible for Sunday's attack. Anyone with information or who was in the area of the Newton Arena, Newton bus loop and the Newton Wave Pool, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Dec. 29 is asked to call the IHIT Tipline at 1-877-551-4448 by email at ihittipline@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

If you wish to remain anonymous you can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave a tip on their website at Solvecrime.ca.

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