Man behind Camosun crime spree deemed not criminally responsible

Aaron Raschke walked toward police wearing a new PISE T-shirt and eating chips and chocolate bars he had stolen from smashed vending machines.

It was the early morning of Nov. 26, 2018.

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Saanich police and firefighters had responded to fire and security alarms at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence and two buildings on the Camosun College Interurban campus. Glass doors were smashed and fires set inside the buildings.

Police arrested Raschke, noticing his hands were cut and bleeding and he had shards of glass on his clothing, Crown prosecutor Sunday Patola told Victoria provincial court. Raschke appeared out of it, she said, and police thought he might have been on drugs.

But a psychiatrist found the 30-year-old Victoria man was suffering from a long-standing psychosis, said Patola, who asked Judge Adrian Brooks to find Raschke not criminally responsible for his crimes by reason of a mental disorder.

After listening to submissions and reading the psychiatric report by Dr. Robert Miller, Brooks agreed that Raschke was not capable of appreciating the nature and consequences of his actions and did not know his actions were wrong.

Raschke will remain in custody until he appears before B.C.’s psychiatric review board. The board must hold a hearing by mid-May.

The crime spree began at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, where Raschke used a rock to smash a glass door into the gym, said Patola. Once inside, he set fire to a cork board in the lobby and to the reception desk, scorching a computer. He stole a PISE T-shirt from the lobby.

After leaving the building, Raschke set fire to a tarp, causing little damage, then went on his way to the Centre for Business and Access. He smashed a glass door, then used a pickaxe to smash two vending machines, said Patola. Raschke stole some food, and set fire to three cork boards in the hallway. A large part of the building was engulfed in smoke, said Patola. Raschke walked to the cafeteria and smashed the window in a door there.

The fire spree continued in the Centre for Trades and Innovation, said Patola. Raschke smashed a large window to get into the building. He lit two fires in the lobby, then smashed a glass display case and the window of a door with the pickaxe.

“There was significant fire, smoke and water damage to these buildings,” said Patola, who submitted victim impact statements from PISE and Camosun College. The buildings were closed for several days.

Raschke was handcuffed and taken to the police station. On the way there, he told police about adventures he had when he was on drugs.

He did not appear to understand what the detective was talking to him about, said the prosecutor.

Raschke couldn’t remember what he had done. When he was told the destruction and fire-setting had been captured on video, he became emotional and broke down in tears a few times, she said.

He didn’t understand why he was being arrested and said he wanted Lucifer as his lawyer. Raschke told police that demons were pointing him in certain directions and he heard voices in his head, said Patola.

The judge heard that two weeks earlier, Raschke had been staggering around on Fisgard Street swearing. He threw a rock at two people in a car, then told police they were threatening him with violence.

After his arrest on Nov. 26, Raschke received anti-psychotic medications in jail and he began doing better, said his defence lawyer, Chantelle Sutton.

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