Vancouver cops nab 'most wanted' Cup riot suspect

Good Samaritan was swarmed by rioters outside The Bay

Police tracked down the most wanted suspect in the Stanley Cup riot Tuesday in a small town in Saskatchewan where the 24-year-old man was employed at a potash mine.

Insp. Laurence Rankin of the Vancouver Police Department's integrated riot team said police arrested the man as he exited a bathroom at a mine in Lanigan, Sask.

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Jonathan Stephen Mahoney of Conception Harbour, N.L. has been charged with participating in a riot, assault, assault with a weapon and two counts of mischief.

Two VPD investigators were to escort Mahoney on a flight back to Vancouver Wednesday, where he would appear before a provincial court judge.

The charges are related to an alleged assault on Robert Mackay, whom police described as a Good Samaritan for his attempts to stop rioters from breaking store windows at The Bay on West Georgia Street.

Mackay was swarmed and beaten by 15 men on June 15, shortly after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Police arrested 14 men in connection with assault but a 15th man remained elusive. Mahoney's photograph was the first one posted on the VPD's riot website in an effort to locate him.

Rankin said investigators received tips from the public that traced Mahoney to Winnipeg, then to Newfoundland and eventually Lanigan, Sask., where police arrested him with the assistance of the Humboldt RCMP.

"Ultimately, it was the public that went to the [VPD's] website, identified him and were able to provide us with the information that resulted in identifying him and getting him charged," said Rankin, noting Mahoney refused to meet with police when contacted. "I know from speaking with the investigators that they had conversations with Mr. Mahoney prior to his arrest while he was across the country and he knew what was happening."

Mackay, a Fairview Slopes resident, said police notified him of the arrest. Mackay said he has yet to be called to testify in the cases against the 14 others.

"I'm pretty glad that they caught him," he told the Courier. "I know a lot of time, resources and money went into getting this guy."

Also Wednesday, Rankin announced another 200 criminal charges against 50 suspects, bringing the total charges to 872 against 275 people. Rankin didn't have a count on how many suspects had been prosecuted.

Though the riot team has downsized, Rankin said 22 officers continue to work on the investigation, which is estimated to be the biggest of its kind in Canadian history.

"We're still receiving information and we still have viable suspects that we're working on, so in that sense we're still moving ahead," he said. "If the number of tips were to increase, I could see that we would be busier. But we're steady and we're continuing with investigations and new investigations."

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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