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Random Vancouver Island pepper spray attack leaves victim traumatized

Man attacked while out for afternoon walk Saanich police say is an uncommon occurrence
A man was assaulted with pepper spray in the Richmond Road area on March 28 near the former Mt. Tolmie Hospital. (Google Street View)

A pepper spray attack in the Mt. Tolmie area left a victim shaken and injured Monday.

The attack happened around 4 p.m. on March 28 as the man – who wishes to remain anonymous for his safety – was walking near the former Mt. Tolmie Hospital that now serves as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

“I was out for my regular walk and listening to a podcast with my earbuds in,” the man said. “I was across the street from the shelter and saw three people exchanging a wad of cash and other stuff. One of them happened to glance up and see that I was looking in their direction while I was still walking – then they started yelling and gesturing at me, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying since I had my headphones in.”

He kept walking on while ignoring the shouting and a few minutes later a man rode up on a bicycle, yelled “hey,” and proceeded to douse the victim in what police said later was likely pepper spray.

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The man didn’t have time to react or get a good look at the attacker before being sprayed, he said. Immediately afterwards he fell to his knees and cried out. People stopped to help and an ambulance and police arrived a short time later.

The spray blinded him for nearly an hour, he said, and he could barely breathe for a time – he already suffers from asthma. Days after the traumatic incident, he is recovering by staying with family and is healing from the burns on his face, eyelids and body.

Saanich Const. Markus Anastasiades said such incidents are not common in Saanich, however, advised people and residents in the area to be mindful of their surroundings.

Police began an investigation, he said, but with limited information provided and no evidence obtained to assist in identifying the suspect, further investigation could only happen if new details were provided by the public.

Anastasiades said police are not actively seeking any suspect living in the shelter.

Anyone who may have witnessed the attack, or has any related information is asked to contact the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4321, or report anonymously to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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