VicPD say they’re dealing with escalating issues of teen violence in downtown Victoria, with some nights seeing as many as 150 youth gathering in the core area.
According to a media release, police say youth from surrounding municipalities have been descending into the downtown core on Friday and Saturday nights.
Police said the large group of teens have been consuming alcohol and drugs, and have been assaulting random individuals and damaging property.
“VicPD is responding to ongoing youth violence in downtown Victoria and the surrounding areas with information, interdiction, and enforcement,” the police force said in a statement.
Police say some nights have seen over 150 youth in groups of various sizes.
Violent offences include assaults with weapons, and random attacks on people walking by the group.
One incident saw an attack on an elderly person, and another against two homeless people—VicPD also say one of their officers was swarmed.
“There have also been numerous reports of mischief, vandalism and property damage, as well as the open consumption of alcohol and drugs by underage youth, and associated disturbances and medical incidents,” VicPD said in their release.
According to VicPD, there have been several incidents of people, including youth, being injured, and some of the youth involved have begun expanding these gatherings into weekday nights.
VicPD released a list of just some of the over two dozen incidents that have recently transpired:
Friday, May 6th:
22-16795 – A caller reported that a group of 100 youths were in the area of Government and Douglas Streets, with some of them jumping on car roofs, kicking car doors and damaging transit signs. Officers arrived and dispersed the group who left behind a significant amount of garbage requiring the City of Victoria Parks Department to follow up.
22-16808 – A couple was swarmed by a group of 20 youths in the 900-block of Douglas Street. The couple were randomly attacked, with youths grabbing one of the victims by the throat and striking her, while continuing to beat and kick the other member of the couple. The couple were able to break away and flee, calling 911 once they were safe. The main suspect is described as a female youth, with very long eyelashes. She wore an orange sweater, black hooded sweatshirt and a black balaclava. Officers responded and searched the area but were not able to locate the suspect. The couple suffered non-life-threatening injuries which did not require medical attention. This file remains under investigation.
22-16814 – Officers responded to a report of a group fighting near the intersection of Douglas Street and Pandora Avenue. The investigation indicates that a group of youths surrounded and began harassing two unhoused persons. During the confrontation, one of the unhoused persons struck one of the youths in the face with a flashlight and then fled the area. The injured youth, who was intoxicated, suffered non-life-threatening facial injuries. He declined medical treatment and was driven home to his Langford residence and released to a parent. This file remains under investigation.
22-16799 – Patrol officers were flagged down near the intersection of View and Douglas streets for a youth who was laying in the roadway with hand injuries. Officers discovered a female youth, showing clear signs of intoxication and suffering non-life-threatening hand injuries. As officers investigated they learned she had been part of a group that swarmed and assaulted two people. One of the victims was struck in the face and both of the victims fled to a vehicle. The group surrounded and began kicking and punching the vehicle, causing significant damage. The victims drove away from the area. The female youth was transported to hospital by paramedics. Officers contacted the youth’s family in Sooke, who attended hospital, and spoke with officers about ongoing concerns.
Monday, April 25th:
2022-15250 – A business owner was swarmed and sprayed with bear spray when a group of youths began fighting outside his store in the 1100-block of Douglas Street. Several youths stole knives from the store after the owner was sprayed. Two youths, previously identified in earlier assaults, were arrested for assault with a weapon and theft. The victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Saturday, April 23rd:
22-15067 – A 70-year-old man was swarmed by a group of 25 youths in the 1200-block of Douglas Street. The man was attacked by a group of five or six youths, who began hitting, punching and spitting on the man. The 70-year-old man suffered significant but non-life-threatening facial injuries in the incident which required medical treatment. This file remains under investigation.
Friday, April 22nd:
22-14948 – Patrol officers attended a call regarding a male youth armed with a knife and bear spray, after a report that a group of youths were assaulting each other with bear spray in the 1300-block of Douglas Street. When arrested, a group of 14 youths swarmed the arresting officer in an attempt to prevent the youth’s arrest. The youth was transported to VicPD cells and issued a violation ticket for cannabis possession. The weapons were seized for destruction and the youth turned over to the custody of a parent.
VicPD says they are working with regional partners including the Greater Victoria School District to engage with the youth and their families, intercept groups in key problem areas and conduct enforcement.
According to VicPD, some parents are providing their children with bear spray and alcohol when the youth have expressed a desire to bring knives and drugs into Victoria’s downtown.
VicPD are warning parents that this type of approach is unhelpful and is instead leading to increased violence and damage, and that any unlawful behaviour will be addressed through enforcement as required.
VicPD said they will be making their presence known at key locations in downtown Victoria during a tweet-along on Friday night.
“Several of the youths involved have told officers that they believe that they will not face criminal charges for their actions,” VicPD Spokesperson Cst. Cam MacIntyre said.
“Some of these youth are conducting violent, random attacks and have told officers that they believe that they will face no consequences for their unlawful actions. They are wrong. Officers are arresting and recommending charges, which can have significant and negative life-long impacts.”
If you see a group assaulting people or damaging property, please call 911.
If you have any information about these incidents, please call the VicPD at (250) 995-7654.