Betty Gillis says she felt like throwing up when she first saw the video of her son defenceless on the ground being attacked by at least three other young people.
“He said ‘Mom they jumped on my head like it was a trampoline,'” Gillis told CHEK News Thursday. “Still just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. A CT scan had to be done because there was so many injuries to his head, so many blows to his head, not just with their feet but with the scooter and the bike.”
It happened around 7 p.m. Saturday in a gravel lot near Hilchey Road and Penfield Road.
A young girl witnessed it and then ran home to tell her mom who called 911.
Gillis’s son, who CHEK News is not identifying, had been heading to a nearby skatepark with his new bike when he came across the group of youths.
“He either went to them or they came to him and they wanted to see his sunglasses. He said ‘I took off my sunglasses and that’s when he punched me in the face,'” Gillis explained.
Police say they’re aware of who the kids in the video are and are dealing with them but they’re also concerned about threats of vigilantism that are popping up online.
“It’s actually getting to a point of encouraging vigilantism against young people right now which is extremely problematic,” said Campbell River RCMP Const. Maury Tyre.
He says even though they are youths, they could still face charges.
“The Criminal Code determines whether they have committed a crime or not so they can be charged in terms of incidents where someone is hitting someone with a foreign object, that’s assault with a weapon,” he added.
There’s been an outpouring of support for Gillis and her son online including from Zack Zacharias who teaches Brazilian Jiu jitsu in Willow Point. He’s offered to teach her son the form of self-defence for free.
“I run a gym but I also work with at-risk youth and just the fact that everyone’s standing around there and not doing anything and telling them to do it again, I don’t know it’s crazy,” Zacharias said.
Gillis says her son knows those who attacked him.
“Tell anyone and I’ll come back for you,” one of the young assailants can be heard saying in the video as the attackers walked away.
But from the angry, hurt mother, there’s also pity for those who attacked her son.
“I hope he’s able to find the help that he needs and I feel horrible for his parents too who I can’t imagine how horrible they feel as well,” Gillis said.
She says she has heard from hundreds of supporters and it warms her heart but she’s not heard from those who attacked her son.
Violent crimes by youths is on the rise nationally. Statistics Canada released its crime severity index on July 27, which showed there is a 26.36 per cent increase in the severity of violent crimes involving youth since the year before.
B.C. saw a 13.44 per cent increase in youth violent crime.