VicPD reports rise in youth violence after 5th pepper spray assault in one week

Esquimalt High School is pictured on May 23, 2024.

Victoria police say they are seeing a spike in violence among youth following a pepper spray incident and brawl in Esquimalt this weekend.

“It’s been the second weekend in a row we’ve seen youth and violence in Esquimalt,” said VicPD spokesperson Const. Terri Healy on Thursday.

Students in the township are also noticing that fights have been increasing.

“I’ve seen lots of videos on Snapchat and Instagram about it,” said Madisen Varcoe, a 14-year-old student at Esquimalt High School.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys who’ve been bear sprayed, a couple guys have had injuries, you’ll see a guy with a concussion, or a black eye,” said high school student Isaac Maynes. “It’s getting pretty out of hand, pretty ridiculous.”

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On Friday, police were called to the 1100-block of Esquimalt Road around 8:30 p.m. for a report of someone getting pepper sprayed.

Officers arrived and learned that the victim, a male youth, had been approached by a group of other youth who were aggressive towards him.

The victim tried to walk away, but was followed by another young man from the group and was pepper sprayed in the face and torso, according to VicPD.

Police searched the area and arrested a suspect nearby. He was then brought to his guardian with a future court date.

Dozens involved in brawl

Later the same night, just an hour later, police say they received multiple reports of a large fight involving approximately 20 to 30 youths.

Police arrived at the scene in the 1200-block of Esquimalt Road, prompting most of the youth to scatter.

Those who remained were “uncooperative with police” or “provided conflicting accounts of what occurred,” according to VicPD.

No one was arrested and there were no major injuries, but police say one youth was treated for pepper spray injuries by paramedics.

The remaining youth were either picked up by guardians or driven home by officers, according to VicPD.

Buccaneer Days marred by youth violence and theft

Typically a family celebration, Buccaneer Days, celebrated in Esquimalt from May 10-12, was also marred by three youth assaults and one theft this year. A 30-year-old woman in a mobility scooter was bear sprayed, a man walking with a cane was pushed to the ground after being approached by 10 kids, and another group fight broke out where four teens were bear sprayed.

A teenage boy also reportedly stole a cashbox from a robotic team fundraiser, taking $1,600.

The pepper spray incident on May 17 marked the fifth time that youth were involved in a pepper spray-related assault in one week.

“It’s hard for us to know how pepper spray or bear spray is getting into the hands of kids. These are tools that are supposed to be for adults for protection against animals, and when they’re used against other people, then they become weapons and those people that are in possession of those items can be charged with possession of weapon or assault with a weapon,” warned Healy.

Healy says some of the groups of kids are coming from neighbouring municipalities like the West Shore, Saanich and View Royal.

In response to the recent uptick in youth violence, Victoria Police will be increasing their patrols in Esquimalt over the next few weekends.

“I think that’s good,” said Maynes. “This place is starting to feel not as safe as it should be.”

Anyone with information on Friday nights’ bear spray assault or large fight is asked to contact VicPD at 250-995-7654.

SEE ALSO: Teens suspected of 3 ‘disturbing’ attacks in Nanaimo within 24 hours

Adam Chan
Kori Sidaway

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