Three people used the dark of night to pour cans of paintover two sleeping homeless people in an alley near a parking lot in Kelowna, B.C., a business owner said.
Part of the act was caught on a surveillance video at the back of a cellphone store, where owner Don Wood said it all happened after a black SUV pulled up and parked under the store's camera.
"Three individuals get out of it, two of them carrying five gallon paint cans, and proceed to throw the paint over some people who are sleeping at the back of the building," Wood told CBC News on Thursday.
The video also shows the three males running back to their truck and driving away.
The two homelesspeople were seen trying their best to clean up and threw a lot of their blankets and clothes into a nearby dumpster, Wood said.
"It's bad enough these people are on the street. They shouldn't have to worry about something like this happening at one o'clock in the morning."
Wood's neighbour, Darcy McKinnon, who also supplied CBC News with video footage, said it was a cruel attack on vulnerable people.
"I'm hoping that somebody will recognize somebody in the video," McKinnon said. "But failing that, at least the guys who are in the video are going to be feeling a little nervous for a while."
He said he hopes it will lead to an arrest.
Police said they were unaware of the early-morning attack or of any others, but CBC News haslearned it's not an isolated case.
The manager of a local drop-in centre said these sorts of attacks began seven months ago.
"We've had a number of people waking up to having fire extinguishers put in their mouths and turned on," said Selena Stearns, of the Kelowna Drop-In and Information Centre.
"That's happened to quite a few people … They're being sprayed directly at close range," she said.
On the streets, a lot of homeless peoplesaid they have been shot by paint balls, hit with bear spray, eggs and even feces.
They said they don't want to be identified and they have not reported their stories to police, but hope the release of the surveillance tape will spark an investigation.