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Dispute over parking space leads to bear-spraying, window smashing in Nanaimo

Incident happened in Walmart parking lot on May 20
Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a driver who bear-sprayed another driver during a dispute over a parking stall in north Nanaimo on the May long weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)

Police in Nanaimo are investigating a dispute that started over a parking stall and escalated to bear-spray being deployed and a vehicle window getting smashed with a tire iron.

The incident happened at about 12:45 p.m. on Monday, May 20, in the Walmart parking lot at Woodgrove Centre, according to a Nanaimo RCMP press release.

RCMP, Nanaimo Fire Rescue and B.C. Ambulance were called to the scene where officers came across a father and his four children, ranging in ages from one to six, who “had all been contaminated to some degree by the bear spray.”

All were treated at scene by paramedics, but did not need further medical care. Investigators spoke with the man’s wife, who was not sprayed, who said the family was attempting to find a suitable parking stall for their truck and boat they were trailering. While manoeuvring into a stall, they were cut off by a man driving a dark-coloured SUV “that resembled a Hummer.”

Both drivers got out of their vehicles and had a heated verbal exchange.

“The interaction quickly escalated when the driver of the dark-coloured vehicle produced a can of bear spray and sprayed it at the other man. Some of the spray contaminated his children,” the release noted.

The man who had been sprayed then grabbed a tire iron from his vehicle and smashed out a window of the SUV, at which point that driver retreated to his vehicle and was last seen driving south on the old Island Highway.

The man who produced the bear spray was thought to be in his 60s with grey hair and was wearing a green shirt. No licence plate number was obtained for his vehicle.

“This was a situation where, if cooler heads had prevailed, this dispute could have been resolved without resorting to this level of violence,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, in the release.

Anyone with information about the incident or the identity of the man who produced the bear spray is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2024-15742.

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