Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

VicPD to step up weekend patrols in Esquimalt after string of youth assaults

Police say they’ve responded to five incidents in a one-week span involving youth assaults with pepper spray, including two last weekend
In some cases, the incidents involved youths coming from neighbouring municipalities and causing a disturbance in Esquimalt, Victoria police say. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria police say they plan to increase patrols in Esquimalt over the next few weekends after responding to five incidents in a one-week span involving youth assaulting people with pepper spray. Two of the attacks happened last weekend.

Const. Terri Healy said in some cases the incidents involved youths coming from neighbouring municipalities and causing a disturbance in ­Esquimalt. “We can’t say right now if this is a trend but it’s certainly concerning.”

The first call in the most recent spree came about 8:30 p.m. last Friday, after a male youth was approached by a group of youths acting aggressively in the 1100-block of Esquimalt Road, between Lampson and Fraser streets.

When the victim tried to walk away, he was pepper-sprayed in the face and torso.

Police located a suspect nearby and arrested him before releasing him into the care of his guardian.

A court date has been scheduled for the suspect, police said.

Another youth was pepper-sprayed about 9:30 p.m. the same night in the 1200-block of Esquimalt Road, between Fraser Street and Admirals Road.

Police had received calls about a fight involving 20 to 30 youths. “Officers attended and many of the youths dispersed, were unco-operative with police or provided conflicting accounts of what occurred,” police said. “No arrests were made, and the remaining youths were either picked up by caregivers or driven home by officers.”

The youth who was pepper-sprayed was treated by B.C. Emergency Health Services paramedics.

The string of youth-related problems in Esquimalt began the previous weekend during Buccaneer Days, and included a man who uses a cane being pushed down by a teen who was in a group of up to 15 others.

Zachary Harper told the Times Colonist he was at the bus stop at Esquimalt and Fernhill roads with his wife about 10:40 p.m. on May 11 after attending Buccaneer Days when they were approached by the youths and he was shoved.

Three or four of the youths began hitting him when he was on the ground, he said.

Witnesses also reported that a woman in a mobility scooter was pepper-sprayed about 11:15 p.m. that night by a group of youths in the vicinity of Esquimalt and Dominion roads.

Earlier in the day, a cash box with about $1,800 in money raised by the robotics team from Esquimalt High School was stolen from a stall at Buccaneer Days, and it was suspected that a youth or youths are responsible.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins called increasing police patrols a good step, noting the township has had discussions with police about the situation.

The youth assaults are ­unusual, she said.

“With the increased patrols, hopefully we will be able to encourage them not to do this in Esquimalt or anywhere,” Desjardins said. “It’s unfortunate that a few bruised apples are causing concerns for everyone.”

Healy said downtown Victoria saw a similar spate of youth violence around this time of year two years ago.

Large groups of youths — up to 150 on some nights — were involved in the incidents in April and May of 2022, including an attack on a 70-year-old man.

The man was swarmed by about 25 youths, punched and spat on, and left with significant facial injuries.

Police responded by deploying the Youth Violence and Vandalism Interdiction and Engagement Response Team downtown for several weeks.

During one of the team’s weekend deployments, police arrested eight youths and seized drugs, alcohol and knives. Three of the arrested youths needed medical care for intoxication.

Healy said the police approach to dealing with these types of cases is to stress ­“prevention and intervention.”

“It’s hard to speculate what the contributing factors of this behaviour and violence are,” she said, adding “complex social issues” can be involved.

Anyone with information about the Esquimalt incidents is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654, extension 1.

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]