A Maple Ridge teenager caught on camera holding a flame to a shirt stuffed in the gas tank of a police car has issued an apology for his role in last week’s Stanley Cup riot.
One of hundreds of rioters who rampaged through downtown Vancouver on Wednesday after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins, Nathan Kotylak, 17, was first outed online through Facebook by people who recognized him.
He chose to waive the protection afforded to him as a young offender.
“I wanted to own up to what I did and encourage other young people to do the same,” said Kotylak in a statement released Saturday.
“What I did was dumb. I have let my family and friends down, and I will face the consequences and take responsibility for my actions.”
A Grade 12 student who just graduated from Meadowridge School, Kotylak is a star athlete who plays on Canada’s junior national polo team.
He had received a partial scholarship to attend the University of Calgary to study kinesiology and has hopes of competing in the Olympics.
On Friday, Water Polo Canada announced it issued a provisional suspension against an unnamed member of its junior men’s national team who is facing allegations of vandalism stemming from the riot.
Kotylak said he was watching the Stanley Cup final downtown when he got swept up in the mayhem that followed the Canucks 0-4 loss to the Bruins.
“At that moment, I made some very bad decisions, ones that I now have to live up to,” he added.
Kotylak decided he would not attend his high school convocation on Thursday because he did not want his notoriety to overshadow the ceremony.
“I’m not looking for any sympathy, I just want to make sure that people know that there have already been serious consequences, and I anticipate there will be more,” said Kotylak, who has yet to be formally charged.
“What happened on Wednesday night took the spotlight away from the Canucks and the Boston Bruins. They are champions and worked very hard to get to that moment. I am so sorry that I was part of ruining that night.”
Like other rioters identified online, Kotylak was viciously attacked and threatened online in a now-defunct Facebook group called “Nathan Kotylak go to Jail, Do not Pass Go” and on the blog publicshamingeternus.
His cell phone number and home address were posted on the websites.
Kotylak’s lawyer, Bart Findlay, said the threats have forced the family to leave their Maple Ridge home. Kotylak’s father Greg, a surgeon at Ridge Meadows Hospital, had to close his office as well.
“The mod mentality that pervaded the riots is happening through social media,” said Findlay.
Len Peters, an administrator for the Facebook group, said he started the page about Kotylak because the boy needed a “good public shaming.”
He added the Facebook group collected other photographs of Kotylak that have been forwarded to Vancouver police.
Vancouver police report that six people have turned themselves in so far.
Police arrested over 100 on Wednesday – 85 for breach of the peace, eight for public intoxication and eight others for crimes including theft, mischief, assault with a weapon, break and enter.