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Second homeless man targeted in 'unprovoked attack' in Nanaimo

A 24-year-old homeless man was hospitalized with head and facial wounds after being attacked with a pipe in the second attack on a homeless man in Nanaimo in three months.
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Museum Way in Nanaimo. Google Street View

A 24-year-old homeless man was hospitalized with head and facial wounds after being attacked with a pipe in the second attack on a homeless man in Nanaimo in three months.

Nanaimo RCMP said they responded to a report of a man being struck just before 11 p.m. Saturday on Museum Way in the city’s downtown area.

Witnesses told officers the man had been sitting when three males dressed in dark clothing approached him. He was asked a question and then hit with what seemed to be a pipe.

The suspects ran toward Gordon Street and were seen getting into a black minivan that was then driven toward Terminal Avenue.

This appears to be an ­unprovoked attack on a person in our community who was unable to defend himself, said Nanaimo RCMP Const. Simon Gallimore.

On July 10, another homeless man was pepper-sprayed and run over twice on Victoria Avenue.

Charles Samuel Salter, then 45, was pushing a cart along the road when he was attacked. Witnesses who saw the incident stayed with Salter until emergency crews got to the scene.

Salter suffered a fractured pelvis and broken nose in the incident, and one of his legs needed a metal rod and screws.

A fundraising effort brought in over $10,000 for him.

Gallimore said that no arrests have been made in the attack on Salter but investigators continue their efforts.

“They’ve got some different irons in the fire as far as investigative processes go.”

Attacks by strangers can be hard to deal with as officers try to determine motive and other factors involved, he said.

Gallimore said police are concerned that the Saturday and July 10 incidents are similar in that “the person may have been targeted simply because of their status as somebody who’s having some homelessness issues in the community.”

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog called the attacks “repugnant behaviour.” “It is not indicative of how the majority of people in Nanaimo feel or act,” he said. “And I sincerely hope the full weight of the criminal justice system is brought to bear.”

Police are asking for witnesses in the Museum Way attack, along with dashcam footage or other video of the area bordered by Museum Way, Commercial Street, Terminal Avenue and Gordon Street beginning at 9 p.m. Oct. 2.

Call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345.

jbell@timescolonist.com