Second Nanaimo shooting in less than a week fuels safety concerns as mayor weighs in

First responder vehicles are seen in downtown Nanaimo following a shooting Saturday night, the second in six days in the city. March 18, 2023.

The second shooting in less than a week has only fueled growing concern over public safety in Nanaimo, with the city’s mayor saying he’s frustrated and concerned over the recent spate of violent crime.

A 39-year-old man was shot in the face in the downtown area on Saturday night and remains hospitalized as of Monday. The police are still trying to determine who may have been responsible.

Last Sunday, Clint Smith was shot and seriously injured in Nanaimo when a group went to retrieve stolen equipment from an encampment and were met with gunfire. Smith was shot in the abdomen and remains hospitalized, although he is now off a ventilator.

Two shooting in six days is unusual, but not surprising, Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said when contacted for comment Monday.

“Two in a row is not yet, well I’ll call it statistically significant. It’s very concerning, whether it continues or not is another question, but look, we have all known for years that many people living in the streets carry weapons of some kind for protection. That is just a reality,” said Krog.

Krog said despite that, the recent shootings and other cases of violent street crime are “frustrating” to see.

“Two shootings in a week is very concerning,” he said.

The Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association echoed the mayor’s concerns and called for improved safety measures in the city.

“We have known for years that many people living on the streets carry weapons of some kind for protection,” said Karen Kuwica, a director of the association. “It’s time for senior levels of government to step in and help improve safety in Nanaimo.”

The second shooting on Saturday occurred near Adam Grant Horne Lane, beside the Coast Bastion Hotel, in downtown Nanaimo at around 8 p.m. Responding Mounties secured the area but did not find the firearm or a suspect.

“We don’t have a lot to go on at this point,” said Ret. Const. Gary O’Brien, spokesperson for Nanaimo RCMP. “There was nobody else in the area at the time.”

The police have been told that a number of people may have witnessed the incident but did not stick around.

“He had significant injuries and was taken to the hospital where he required emergency treatment,” said Cst. O’Brien.

The Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association says the timing of the shootings, during spring break, is terrible for the city.

“There are all kinds of families in town enjoying our beautiful city and participating in athletic youth events, which is what we want kids to be doing, and unfortunately there’s yet another violent incident,” said Karen Kuwica.

The association is calling on senior levels of government to improve safety in the city.

RCMP had a heavy presence downtown again Monday looking for surveillance video and witnesses. Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact them.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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