Two violent carjacking attempts on Sunday night caused mayhem, as an out-of-control car crashed into multiple vehicles, a tree and a retaining wall, while bystanders ran from all corners to help.
The chaos ended with witnesses taking down the suspect until police arrived.
“It was a very dynamic, very violent incident from the Esso gas station to the Tim Hortons parking lot,” Saanich Police Sgt. Julie Fast said Monday.
“We are very, very lucky that injuries weren’t more serious and more people weren’t injured.”
Carjackings, where someone enters a car when the driver is in the vehicle and uses force to eject them, are “very rare” in the capital region, Fast said.
It all started at about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday when a man in the gas-pump area at the Esso station on Douglas Street and Tolmie Avenue allegedly approached several vehicles.
Eventually, the man tried to force his way into a black sedan, possibly a Toyota, after the driver had just finished pumping gas and had climbed back into the driver’s seat.
“The suspect opened the driver’s door of this car and tried to force his way in, struggling with the driver,” Fast said. “Several witnesses came to the driver’s aid and the suspect fled on a bike.”
Police said moments later, in the adjacent Tim Hortons parking lot, the suspect approached a father, 68, and his daughter, 28, seated in a Honda Civic.
The man opened the driver’s door and allegedly began assaulting the father.
The father lost control of the car as it backed into a parked tow truck.
As the struggle continued, the vehicle was inadvertently bumped from reverse into drive and moved through the parking lot, striking three other cars, driving over a garden bed and a tree, then hitting a retaining wall, where it came to a stop, Fast said.
“It wasn’t intentionally driving — it was moving at random and there were lots of bystanders trying to come to the aid [of the victims],” Fast said.
Some of the helpers came from the Tim Hortons, others from parked cars, she said. “Some of them were putting themselves in the way of a moving vehicle and putting themselves into an unknown incident not knowing what they were getting into,” Fast said. “They were just wanting to help and respond as we all would.
“It was extraordinarily lucky no one else was hurt.”
Several witnesses were able to restrain the suspect on the ground until police arrived, she said.
“Although we never want people to put themselves in harm’s way, the courageous actions of everyone who intervened during this dynamic and dangerous situation likely prevented further injury and damage as a result of this man’s actions,” said Fast.
The father and daughter were both taken to hospital to be assessed and treated for what’s believed to be relatively minor physical injuries, said police.
The first attempted carjacking victim left the scene Sunday but contacted police on Monday.
A 29-year-old man is in custody, said police.
The suspect was arrested for two counts of robbery and held in custody for a short court appearance on Monday.