A man alleged to have sexually assaulted, confined and in some instances beaten four women who frequented Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is now facing 12 charges. The Burnaby RCMP is working closely with the Vancouver Police Department, reviewing a number of existing files and trying to locate and identify any other possible victims.
Police are appealing for any witnesses or victims to come forward and are releasing a list of vehicles associated to the suspect from 1994-present.
Shalendra Kumar Sharma, 43, of Surrey, BC, has been charged with four counts of sexually assaulting four different women, from 1994 to 2011. He is also charged with four counts of confining the women, and one count of kidnapping. In the two incidents from 2011 Sharma is also charged with two counts of assault, and one count of uttering threats. He is currently remanded in custody, and is due back in court March 2.
We particularly want to commend the strength of the women he is accused of attacking this past December, says Chief Superintendent Dave Critchley, head of Burnaby RCMP.
They came forward and assisted police by providing valuable evidence, and we wouldn’t be at this point without them.
On December 4, 2011, the Burnaby RCMP was made aware of a possible sexual assault and robbery, against a woman who had been taken to a Burnaby location from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. That same night the RCMP’s Lower Mainland District Regional Duty Officer called and spoke to Vancouver PD’s Duty Officer, to discuss the evidence and strategies to locate the suspect.
Both police agencies recognized the danger to women – particularly those in the high risk category he appeared to be targeting, and we took immediate action to get safety messaging out to the women, says C/Supt. Critchley.
I’d particularly like to highlight the role of VPD’s liaison to the Downtown Eastside community in assisting us in getting out important safety information, in a way that reached the right people.
Our concern, first, last and always during this investigation was for the safety of the women in the Downtown Eastside, says VPD Superintendent Rob Rothwell.
Every member of our team was dedicated to ensuring that the mistakes of the past would never be repeated again.
A second assault occurred in Burnaby on December 18, 2011, which police believed was linked to the December 4 assault. Again, the Burnaby RCMP and Vancouver PD investigators worked closely together, cross-referencing files in PRIME and other police databases. The work of a VPD sex crimes analyst allowed key pieces of the puzzle to be linked together across multiple jurisdictions.
Now both Vancouver and Burnaby police are turning their attention to past files, dating back to the 1990s, and are releasing information about four vehicles belonging to Sharma. Police are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed or been the subject of an assault, sexual assault or theft associated to one of the four vehicles.
Given that Mr. Sharma is in custody and thus poses no current threat to the public, police will not be releasing his photo at this time as investigators need to protect the integrity of their ongoing investigation. That decision will be continually reviewed.
Concern for public safety will always trump the needs of this or any investigation, says C/Supt. Critchley.
The following is a list of vehicles to which Sharma is associated:
- 2007 red Ford Escape for the period October 2006 to present;
- 2003 blue Ford Explorer for the period January 2004 to February 2010;
- 1997 red Ford Explorer for the period March 1999 to October 2006;
- 1991 red Pontiac Sunbird for the period January 1994 to May 1997.