Police arrest suspect after attack on man with Down syndrome in Beacon Hill Park

A man with Down syndrome who was traumatized after an unprovoked attack in Beacon Hill Park late last week told his friend and swim coach he’s having nightmares and is fearful of going out for walks.

Susan Simmons, who coaches the man in Special Olympics, said her friend was out for a walk and talking with his sister on his cellphone when a man approached him and tried to steal his phone.

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“He told my friend that people with disabilities shouldn’t have cellphones and he tried to take it,” said Simmons. “He pushed him down to the ground and he pinned him there. My friend has his shirt ripped up in the front and back.

“It was a violent attack and very traumatizing for him.”

The altercation was interrupted by passersby who assisted the man and the suspect fled.

Victoria police responded to a report of a fight Friday along Dallas Road near Camus Circle about 1 p.m.

They said the victim, a man with Down syndrome, had suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The injured man told officers he had been suddenly attacked by a man he did not know, according to a statement by Victoria police.

Officers located a suspect nearby and arrested him for assault.

Police said the man made concerning statements as he was taken into custody, prompting the officers to transport him to hospital for a mental health assessment. He was held in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

This file remains under investigation.

Simmons said her friend, who is in his 30s, lives near Beacon Hill Park. She said it was his favourite place to walk and safely get outside for exercise and fresh air during the pandemic. Now he’s fearful about returning to the park.

“He’s been having nightmares … he told me he woke up in the middle of the night thinking the man was going to stab him.”

Simmons said this type of attack — “on a citizen with Down syndrome in plain sight and broad daylight” — should be a wakeup call for the mayor and council to support law and order and fund additional police services.

“It’s not about homelessness … it’s about people respecting the law,” she said. “A lot of people [sheltering in city parks] are struggling and they, too, are being assaulted.”

If you have information about this incident, call Victoria police at 250-995-7654 ext 1. To report anonymously, call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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