Victoria Police say that four youths are suspects in an overnight bear spray attack at the Bastion Square parkade in downtown Victoria.
At 12:38 a.m. on Dec. 28, Victoria police responded to a person who had been attacked with bear spray by four youths. Police were able to locate the four suspects but they were eventually released without arrest.
BC Emergency Health Services members responded shortly after to treat the victim.
“One ambulance responded. Paramedics assessed one patient at the scene but did not transport anyone to hospital,” said Brian Twaites, paramedic public information officer.
Witnesses reported that the victim of the attack was unhoused. However, VicPD has not confirmed this information or the age range of the suspects.
“Things like an attack like this just brings people lower,” said Grant McKenzie, communications director of Our Place Society.
McKenzie says attacks on the unhoused community are a setback for those who are trying to get off the streets.
“When people are in survival mode….society, institutions turn against them and so they’re very gun shy about looking and trusting people to get the help they need,” said McKenzie.
Unhoused members of the community are more often victims of crimes, rather than the preparators, according to McKenzie.
“A lot of times they’re people that have been misjudged, they’ve been looked down upon. A lot of times they’re suffering from addiction issues, mental health issues, and so they become easy targets,” he said.
Attacks on members of the unhoused community don’t always go reported. In September, Michael “Mikey” Henning, a well-known leader within the community, suspiciously died on Pandora Avenue.
To make a change, McKenzie suggests that perpetrators of attacks like this should be forced to see the difficulties from those out on the streets.
“Maybe part of their restitution should be working at a place like Our Place, where they have to serve and hear some of those life stories and find out that it doesn’t take much for anybody to slip off,” said McKenzie.