Oak Bay machete attacker remains at large

Oak Bay police are advising residents to lock their doors and remain vigilant, even as they said the public is not at risk after a woman was attacked in her home.

A 45-year-old woman suffered serious injuries to her upper body after she was attacked by a man who had broken into her Esplanade home overlooking Willows Beach about 7 a.m. Tuesday. The woman described the man’s weapon as a machete.

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No arrests had been made as of Wednesday afternoon, said Sgt. Rob Smith.

The woman told police she did not know the attacker, who is described as heavyset and in his 20s. He was wearing a brown jacket, dark pants and a baseball cap, with a light blue and white handkerchief around his neck.

Police said they have not been able to interview the woman, who underwent surgery Tuesday.

According to land title documents, the house is owned by Neehal and Hassan Alireza and is valued at $2.6 million. While police said the woman is a resident of the home, they have not said whether she is a member of the family.

A forensic identification team and several officers from Saanich and Victoria police were at the house on Wednesday, using metal detectors to search the well-manicured shrubs for evidence.

Police did not say whether they found anything. Officers also canvassed neighbours for information.

The attack happened in broad daylight when many people were strolling the beach walking their dogs.

One Oak Bay resident who lives nearby said she’s locking her doors and hopes an arrest is made soon. “We’re all locking our doors now. We’d just like a bit of information,” she said.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said he can understand why the community is worried. “It creates a sense of fear in the community that we can have this kind of random attack,” he said while standing near the police tape surrounding the home.

“It strikes fear in people’s hearts because it is an invasion of the one place we all have to feel safe, the sanctity of the home.”

Schools in the area were placed in a “secure and hold” procedure as a precaution, but that was lifted before noon on Tuesday.

Jensen said there was seamless co-ordination between Oak Bay police and other police departments following the attack.

“Immediately after it happened, we had Saanich police, Victoria police all responding, all checking the neighbourhoods, all dealing with the schools. That is something that is an improvement from the past perhaps in terms of how that response is made.”

The Oak Bay Police Department has been criticized for its response to the 2007 murder-suicide in which Peter Lee killed his wife, her parents and the couple’s six-year-old son before killing himself.

The Saanich police major crime section is handling the investigation, since Oak Bay police contracts out major investigations to the larger department.

Anyone who has information about the attack or saw anything suspicious is asked to call Saanich police at 250-475-4356 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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