Nanaimo RCMP have arrested a 19-year-old accused of a vicious assault on a gay Vancouver Island University student that they are investigating as a possible hate crime.
Spencer Frey, an interior design student at VIU, says he was targeted at a weekend house party in north Nanaimo over the weekend in an assault that left him with multiple injuries that required hospitalization.
Frey alleged that the attack was preceded by multiple homophobic comments from several partygoers.
“I do 100% feel it was a hate crime,” said Frey.
“It’s just disgusting and it’s literally left me traumatized in a way that I could get beat up for just being myself,” he told CHEK News Tuesday.
He reported the assault to RCMP, who said Wednesday that they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
RCMP confirmed that the suspect had been arrested on an assault charge. He was taken into custody Tuesday night and later released from police custody pending a May 24 court date.
“Violence of any kind is unacceptable, and especially when it involves individuals who have allegedly been targeted because of their sexual preference. We are aggressively pursuing this investigation and have reached out to the victim to ensure he is supported as the investigation progresses,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
Reacting to news of the arrest Wednesday, Frey said “I feel a lot safer even if he’s in there for one night.”
Politicians including Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog and B.C. Premier John Horgan condemned the attack, saying homophobia is unwelcome in the city and province.
This is horrible. I’m so sorry this happened to Spencer.
There is NO place for homophobia or any kind of hate in BC.
Let’s all #StandWithSpencer and against those who spread violence and hate. https://t.co/uW5K28YriD
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) March 30, 2022
The university issued a statement in the wake of the attack saying it went against “everything VIU stands for.”
VIU also said that an on-campus rally is taking place this Thursday at the Malaspina Theatre that will also mark the Transgender Day of Visibility.
Update: A 19 y/o Nanaimo man has been arrested for assault after the alleged house party attack on a @VIUniversity student because he was gay @NanaimoRCMP confirm. Victim Spencer Frey says, “I feel a lot safer even if he’s in there for one night. @CHEK_News #standwithspencer https://t.co/izmgNecgBa pic.twitter.com/aPa0QdBJbQ
— Skye Ryan (@SkyeRyanCHEK) March 30, 2022
The victim’s mother is urging witnesses to come forward.
If you know of anybody at that party who was in the mob that you can identify that jumped on Spencer because there were a lot of people who stood by watching this,” said Erin Frey.
“We know there’s others at the party who may have seen, may have heard something, we need to speak to them,” said Cst. O’Brien.
Police are asking any witnesses of the attack to contact them at 250-754-2345 and quote file number 2022-10317.
With files from CHEK’s Skye Ryan.