Tony Shirley was overcome with grief when talking about his friend Sasha, who died in a fatal stabbing at Nanaimo’s Port Place Mall on Sunday night.
A small dispute over drugs escalated quickly into a tragedy, according to Shirley. Sasha was stabbed repeatedly with scissors and dragged himself into the mall trying to get help.
“It started out as a simple argument. This guy couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag with a pair of scissors in his hand,” Shirley, who lives unhoused on Nanaimo’s streets, said Thursday.
“He was taken to hospital, but unfortunately, he died from his injuries in hospital,” Const. Gary O’Brien told CHEK News on Monday.
The level of violence in the stabbing has shaken Nanaimo’s street community and outreach workers. It has also left those who knew Sasha, who had lived unhoused in Nanaimo for years and was a street-level drug dealer, devastated.
“He’s a childhood friend. So I miss him, I love him,” said Teagun Pywell, who has known Sasha since they were boys growing up in Duncan.
“And every time we see each other, it was ‘Bro, it’s good to see you again,’ you know,” said Pywell, who lives unhoused in Nanaimo.
According to Pywell, the victim, who was in his 30s, had recently gotten clean.
“He cleaned up, he got better. I saw him three or four months ago and he was still 10 months clean. Actually, he took his one-year cake, so he was doing very, very well and he was so happy,” said Pywell.
Doug Hiltz delivers meals to Nanaimo’s homeless nightly and said the fatal stabbing shows how dangerous the streets have become.
“Every night we go out there, we don’t know what we’re walking into as outreach workers. It’s scary because we don’t have any protection on us,” said Hiltz with the Wisteria Community Association.
RCMP took a suspect into custody on Sunday night following the stabbing, but as of late Thursday, no charges had been laid. So the victims’ friends are sticking closer together than ever, hoping it will keep them safe.