Nanaimo business owner shot trying to recover stolen property from encampment
Man is in induced coma awaiting surgery, friends say
A 49-year-old owner of a local mechanic shop in Nanaimo remains in hospital after being shot on Sunday afternoon.
According to friends, he is in an induced coma, awaiting a second surgery after he was hit in the stomach. His condition is described as stable.
The victim was part of a group of about six individuals who had entered a makeshift encampment close to downtown to retrieve tools that were stolen from his shop a few days earlier.
RCMP say they responded to shots fired shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, to the Mill Street and Barsby Avenue area in downtown Nanaimo.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. However, two individuals were arrested on unrelated warrants. Police say they believe the firearm in question was also recovered at the scene.
Jeff Callaghan is on the Van Isle Clean Team, which often goes into encampments to remove garbage.
He was a part of the group that attempted to retrieve the tools.
He says that after retrieving the tools, those in the encampment got confrontational. He says several people began chasing them down the road, firing weapons. Callaghan estimated that 10-15 shots were fired at them.
He says the business owner was hit with one bullet and two BB gun pellets. RCMP located the victim and his friends in a parking lot on Terminal Avenue.
He says that while he knew that calling police would have seen the tools recovered, it was about taking a stand as a neighbourhood.
"All they would have done is gone down there and get the stuff back. There would be no charges. They would have carried on with their ways," said Callaghan.
"We wanted to show that the neighbourhood was standing up to say no more of this bullshit."
Const. Gary O'Brien says RCMP do not condone the actions of the group.
"People taking justice into their own hands, it never ends well. We just can't tolerate that.
"In this particular case, if they had given us advance notice, this is what we're faced with. We need your assistance. We would have responded and done so in a safe manner."
Collen Middleton, who is interim chair of the Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association (NAPSA), says enough is enough.
"I see this as very much an illustration of how bad the situation has become for public safety in the current provincial and federal policy environment," said Middleton.
"There isn't any help coming from anyone other than the community."
Middleton says that the province has to step in to make the community safer.
He says he does not view the situation as vigilantism under the circumstances.
RCMP say the investigation is ongoing and that anyone who may have been a witness or have dashcam footage of the incident should contact them.