A businessman is in hospital after a dramatic shooting that saw bullets fly across Nanaimo’s Terminal Avenue Sunday afternoon.
The Nanaimo man and supporters had arrived at an encampment located down a steep slope next to the Millstone River to retrieve stolen property spotted at the site.
“They chased us across the highway shooting,” Jeff Callaghan of the Van Isle Cleanup Team — who was part of the group — said on social media.
The businessman was shot three times. He has undergone emergency surgery and is expected to have more, representatives of the Newcastle Community Association said Monday.
RCMP said the man is believed to be in stable condition. Another person was injured and a weapon was found. Two people are in custody on unrelated warrants.
Callaghan, who was not injured, said the group went to the area to retrieve stolen property taken from a friend’s shop.
“They were not happy we were there and we gathered up the stolen property and things went sideways — first punches were thrown and then one pulled out a gun and began shooting.”
Another individual then also began shooting a rifle.
The group crossed busy Terminal Avenue while being shot at, he said.
At some point, the businessman was shot, Callaghan said. “So our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
RCMP Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien said police were called to the encampment about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday in the area of Mill Street and Barsby Avenue and came across a group of adults in a Terminal Avenue parking lot, including the injured person.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said it was “highly dangerous” for the group to have gone to the encampment, saying there are “desperate people” living on city streets. The incident was like a “wild west movie,” he said.
Krog said it’s time for the provincial and federal governments to focus on the consequences of 30 to 40 years of failed social policy around mental health, addictions, trauma and brain injury.
Half the city’s budget increase this year is related to public safety, he said. “[But] you can’t hire enough police or community safety officers or bylaw officers to prevent this kind of street disorder that is the root of what’s happened here.”
Representatives of the Newcastle Community Association said campsites on the slope have been a concern for four years, describing them as a major source of crime, violence and social disorder.
Karen Kuwica, association president, and Fred MacDonald, vice-president, are calling on governments to immediately address “safety and security issues and protect us from the criminal element that has been allowed to camp out and lay siege to our community.”
Residents want the province and city bylaw staff to remove the campers, she said.
Kuwica said area residents are in shock about the shooting, calling the businessman who was shot a “helpful community member.”
“When the snow hit, he went out in his all-terrain-vehicle and he plowed the shops, he plowed the sidewalks, he plowed by the schools. He’s neighbourly and he’s a helpful community member and business member.
“He cares about his community and he gives back.”
Kuwica said thefts have become so commonplace in Nanaimo that residents are increasingly looking to retrieve their items. She noted that she saw three of the campers returning to the encampment on Monday afternoon.
“This is about innocent people paying the price of failed policy and we are not safe,” Kuwica said.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said it was “highly dangerous” for the group to have gone to the encampment
Maybe it's also "highly dangerous" and just plain wrong to let these miscreants steal and possess property that's not theirs. I'm sure the firearms they used are legit and duly registered.
We do not allow shop-owners to shoot suspected shop-lifters.
Hopefully those responsible here will be charged with attempted murder.
Edited by Victoria Watcher, 14 March 2023 - 03:38 AM.