Several incidents from earlier this month relate to what Victoria police said is an uptick in violent crimes committed by youth downtown.
The Victoria Police Department reported responding to more than two dozen calls relating to around 150 youth, who have been coming from other communities and are gathering in and around downtown Victoria. Very few are actually from Victoria and none are from Esquimalt.
A small group of organizers is using social media to set up the gatherings, VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko told Black Press Media. He said a core group of around 20 are the ones responsible for the alleged crimes.
Four incidents on May 6 led to five arrests and possible recommended charges coming, Osoko said on Friday afternoon.
One couple was reportedly attacked on Douglas Street by a group of 20, with police saying the youth grabbed a woman by the throat and struck her while others kicked and beat the other individual. The couple was injured but didn’t need medical attention. Officers are looking for the main suspect in this incident, she’s described as having very long eyelashes and she wore an orange sweater, a black hooded sweatshirt and a black balaclava.
Another contingent of youth surrounded and harrassed two people experiencing homelessness. One of the unhoused individuals escaped the situation after hitting a Langford youth with a flashlight. The youth’s face was injured and, after declining medical treatment, he was driven home to a parent.
Another group on May 6 reportedly swarmed and assaulted two people. One victim was struck in the face before the pair escaped in their vehicle. Prior to the couple driving away, police said the group of youth surrounded the vehicle, kicking and punching it. One Sooke youth, who was part of the incident and appeared intoxicated, was taken to hospital for hand injuries. Police said officers spoke with her parents at the hospital.
Also a week ago, VicPD dispersed a group of approximately 100 after a report about them jumping on and kicking vehicles.
The youth mainly range from ages 14 to 18, with some as old as 21, Osoko said.
Between April 23 and 26, 16 youth were arrested in relation to three violent downtown incidents – which included the alleged assault of a 70-year-old man and a business owner being sprayed with bear spray. Osoko said the delay in hearing about those incidents was due to police needing to determine whether the attacks were isolated. He said they decided to alert the public after the youth returned for a few weeks straight.
While most have been surprised and upset about the actions, Osoko said a small number of parents are giving their kids bear spray and alcohol after hearing their child’s intent to “bring knives and drugs into Victoria’s downtown.” In response to this, VicPD said officers have been informing parents this approach is leading to increased violence.
“Some of these youth are conducting violent, random attacks and have told officers that they believe that they will face no consequences for their unlawful actions,” said Const. Cam MacIntrye in a statement. “They are wrong. Officers are arresting and recommending charges, which can have significant and negative life-long impacts.”
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