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Midday gunfire injures man, shuts city blocks for hours

Three men in custody after broad-daylight shooting downtown

Gunfire erupted on a busy downtown street in Victoria yesterday, injuring one man and closing numerous city blocks as police attempted to find the shooters.

A 48-year-old Victoria man was hit in the leg while walking on Vancouver Street near Fort Street around 12:45 p.m., said Sgt. Grant Hamilton, police spokesman.

Mike Suminski walked by shortly after and saw the man, who appeared to be heavy-set and in his 50s, standing and talking on his cellphone while blood dripped from his leg.

"He was standing and casual ... just bleeding," said Suminski, who works at Frontrunners, a nearby business.

Other witnesses reportedly told police that they heard a name being shouted -- perhaps the name of the victim -- before a shot was fired.

The victim, who was known to police, was at hospital being treated last evening. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

"We don't believe [the shooting] was random," said Hamilton. "It's not like it's somebody picking out somebody on a street. We think there's a reason for this and we're trying to get to the bottom of it."

Police quickly closed surrounding streets, including a block of busy Fort Street. The roads remained behind police tape well into the evening as officers from the major crime and forensic identification units processed evidence at the scene.

A gold-coloured van was seen leaving the site of the shooting and Victoria police put out its description to other capital region departments. Saanich police later spotted a similar van near Richmond Road and Forrester Street, said Hamilton.

The number of witnesses and the different views of the shooting make the investigation complex, he said. "You get a variety of stories and a variety of statements."

Such shootings occur but are uncommon in Victoria; still, it's "very rare" to have gunfire on a city street in broad daylight, Hamilton said.

Three men were taken into custody by police and were being questioned last night, Hamilton said. Investigators would not say how, or if, they were connected to the shooting, nor would they speculate on a possible motive.