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Surge of violent youth crime downtown, Victoria police say

Large groups of youths have been coming into downtown on Friday and Saturday nights to drink and take drugs, police say. Some of the youths have been attacking strangers.
Victoria Police Department VicPD car - photo generic

Victoria police say they are ­dealing with a surge in youth crime and violence downtown, including vandalism, assaults with weapons and random attacks on the elderly, homeless, business owners and passersby.

VicPD said in a statement large groups of youth from ­surrounding municipalities have begun coming into downtown on Friday and Saturday nights to consume alcohol and drugs.

Some nights, police said there have been 150 youth in groups of various sizes.

VicPD Patrol and ­Community Services Division officers have been responding to more than two dozen calls for violent offences, including assaults with weapons, attacks on the elderly and unhoused community and, in one case, the swarming of a police officer.

There have also been ­numerous reports of mischief, vandalism and property damage, as well as open consumption of alcohol and drugs by underage youth creating “medical­ ­incidents.”

Police noted some of the groups have started gathering on weekdays.

VicPD gave examples of what its officers have dealt with:

Friday, May 6

• A group of 100 youths were in the area of Government and Douglas streets, with some of them jumping on car roofs, kicking car doors and damaging transit signs.

• A couple were swarmed by a group of 20 youths in the ­ 900 block of Douglas Street. The couple were randomly attacked, with youths grabbing one of the victims by the throat and ­striking her, while continuing to beat and kick the other member of the couple. The couple were able to break away and flee, calling 911 once they were safe. The couple suffered injuries which did not require medical attention.

• Officers were alerted to a group fighting near Douglas Street and Pandora Avenue. Youths surrounded and began harassing two unhoused people. During the confrontation, one of the unhoused persons struck one of the youths in the face with a flashlight and then fled.

The injured youth, who was intoxicated, suffered ­facial ­injuries. He declined medical treatment and was driven home to his Langford residence and released to a parent.

• Patrol officers were flagged down near View and Douglas streets for a youth who was lying in the road with hand injuries. Officers discovered a female youth, showing clear signs of intoxication and ­suffering ­non-life-threatening hand ­injuries.

As officers investigated, they learned she had been part of a group that swarmed and assaulted two people. One of the victims was struck in the face and both victims fled to a vehicle.

The group surrounded and began kicking and punching the vehicle, causing significant damage. The victims drove away from the area. The female youth was transported to hospital by paramedics.

Monday, April 25

• A business owner was swarmed and sprayed with bear spray when a group of youths began fighting outside his store in the 1100 block of Douglas Street. Several youths stole knives from the store after the owner was sprayed.

Two youths, ­identified in ­earlier assaults, were arrested for assault with a weapon and theft.

The victim sustained ­non-life-threatening injuries.

Saturday, April 23

• A 70-year-old man was swarmed by a group of 25 youths in the 1200 block of Douglas Street. The man was attacked by a group of five or six youths, who began hitting, punching and spitting on the man. The victim suffered significant facial injuries in the incident which required medical treatment.

Friday, April 22

Officers were alerted about a male youth armed with a knife and bear spray, after a report that a group of youths were assaulting each other with bear spray in the 1300-block of Douglas Street. When arrested, a group of 14 youths swarmed the arresting officer in an attempt to prevent the youth’s arrest. The youth was transported to VicPD cells and issued a violation ticket for cannabis possession. The weapons were seized for destruction and the youth turned over to the custody of a parent.

VicPD said it is working with regional partners including the Greater Victoria School District and other police forces to engage with the youths and their families.

“Officers have learned that some parents are providing their children with bear spray and alcohol when their children have expressed a desire to bring knives and drugs into Victoria’s downtown,” said the VIcPD statement. “Officers are informing parents that this type of approach is unhelpful and is instead leading to increased violence and damage.”

As part of the response, VicPD said its officers will be making their presence known at key locations in downtown Victoria, posting those locations to social media with the hashtag #VicPDLive.

“Several of the youths involved have told officers that they believe that they will not face criminal charges for their actions,” said VicPD spokesperson Const. Cam MacIntyre. “Some of these youth are conducting violent, random attacks and have told officers that they believe that they will face no consequences for their unlawful actions. They are wrong. Officers are arresting and recommending charges, which can have significant and negative life-long impacts.”

If you see a group assaulting people or damaging property, call 911. If you have any information about these incidents, call 250-995-7654 ext 1.

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