Neighbours in shock after brazen sexual assault in Saanich

Neighbours in shock after brazen sexual assault in Saanich

WATCH: Major crimes and forensic investigators are working around the clock after a terrifying sexual assault over the weekend. Tess van Straaten has the latest.

People who live in a family-friendly townhouse complex in Gordon Head are in shock after a disturbing attack.

“I never thought that would happen in this kind of community,” says Dylan Collins, a University of Victoria student that lives in the complex. “It’s horrible. I can’t believe anything like that would happen.”

“It’s scary because we have a lot of young adults in the area and just to think somebody can walk into your house with a knife, it’s pretty unnerving,” adds neighbour Sherri Gerrard, who’s lived in the complex for four years.

But that’s exactly what police say happened in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

A man brazenly entered one of the units and attacked a 22-year-old woman.

“Middle of the night, she’s asleep in the townhouse and is woken to a man basically standing over her with a knife,” says Sgt. Julie Fast of the Saanich Police Department.

Police say the man sexually assaulted the woman, who’s from the Lower Mainland and was staying with friends, and then fled the scene shortly after 2 a.m.

“This is not something we see here, especially in this area, we’re a very safe community,” says Sgt. Fast. “It would have been terrifying. It’s very unsettling that this has happened.”

The investigation is still in the early stages but police have already determined several townhouses in this area are being left unlocked.

Investigators say it’s possible the assailant knew that and targetted the residence.

“You’re not going to hear somebody if you’re downstairs or upstairs in the bedrooms, you’re not going to hear it if someone walks into your house,” says Gerrard.

“We never really lock our doors,” adds Collins. “We sometimes lock the front door but the back door is always open. That will be changing from now on.”

Police are urging people to be vigilant and make sure their homes are secure.

They’re also hoping to talk to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the hours around the attack.

The suspect is described as tall, with an athletic or strong build, and short blonde hair that’s longer on the top and shorter on the sides.

He was wearing dark clothing and may have been wearing glasses.

Anyone with information is asked to call Saanich Police or Crime Stoppers.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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