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UPDATE: VicPD defend decision not to warn public after initial attack

Victoria Police are defending their decision not to issue a public warning after a Wednesday morning assault that later came to be linked to a string of assaults believed to have been committed by the same person.

Nine hours after the initial attack, the suspect was arrested in relation to a series of assaults using a field hockey stick as a weapon.

When asked why the public wasn’t warned sooner, community engagement officer Bowen Osoko said that police believed the earlier attack was isolated.

“There was nothing in the earlier incident that can point to what occurred later and it is only once the suspect was taken into custody that the link between the incidents was able to be made,” he said.

He added that the volume of calls police regularly receive makes it difficult to issue public warnings after all such calls.

“In 2018 we’ve had 487 assault calls so far. That’s an average of 3.6 assault calls a day,” he said in an emailed statement. “Due the sheer volume of the numbers of these types of calls, from a resource perspective it is simply not possible to effectively warn the public of the potential of a further assault each time an assault occurs in our jurisdiction. Instead, we focus on investigating each incident, and where the investigation points to a risk to the public, we then act.”

Numerous charges have been recommended against the man. Patrol officers were called to the area near Pandora Avenue and Store Street after the report of an assault at 9:45 p.m.

As officers were attending the scene, multiple other 911 calls were made involving similar incidents. Multiple victims have been identified, all sustaining non-life threatening injuries. The suspect also damaged property as he moved through the downtown area.

Multiple sources claim a man assaulted several people with a field hockey stick, starting near Pandora and Fisgard before moving to Bastion Square, and heading towards Humboldt and Douglas streets, where police were able to stop him and take him into custody.

Alex Lopez was working at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour near that intersection when he saw the flashing lights.

“I was cleaning the concierge lounge at that time and I saw lots of police,” he said, noting that it was 10:01 p.m.

Lopez also said kept an eye on things and by 10:17 p.m. he saw one man on a stretcher being loaded onto an ambulance.

Investigators are recommending several charges including:

  • 2 counts of aggravated assault
  • 3 counts of assault causing bodily harm
  • 5 counts of assault with a weapon
  • 1 count of mischief
  • several counts of breach of probation

Police are asking witnesses and victims of assault or victims of damage to their property to please come forward.

Anyone with additional information can call the Victoria Police Department at 250-995-7654 or can call anonymously to the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-888-8477.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Nicole Crescenzi

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