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Nanaimo homeless encampment shooting sends man to hospital


One man is in hospital with a gunshot wound after trying to retrieve stolen property from a homeless encampment in downtown Nanaimo.

Mounties were called around 3:30 p.m. Sunday to reports of an argument at Barsby Park, near the intersection of Mill Street and Barsby Avenue.

Responding officers found six people in a nearby parking lot, including one man who had been shot.

Paramedics transported the victim to hospital, where he remained Monday in what police believe to be stable condition, the Nanaimo RCMP said in a statement.

Police arrested two people at the scene who were taken into custody on unrelated warrants.

Forensic officers and police dogs examined the scene and located a gun, which was seized by police.

"About six individuals went to the park, in our understanding, to retrieve stolen property. As a result of them being there, an altercation ensued," Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Const. Gary O’Brien said Monday.

"We haven't identified the actual shooter at this point, so the investigation is continuing."

Karen Kuwica, president of the Newcastle Community Association, a volunteer neighbourhood group in Nanaimo, identified the shooting victim as a mechanic whose business was recently targeted by thieves.


"This is a businessman trying to get his property back so he can carry on business and provide the services that he is committed to," Kuwica said. "[This] is the most tragic, horrific outcome."

Jeff Callaghan, a cofounder of a volunteer group that cleans up homeless camps and illegal-dumping sites around Nanaimo, says he was one of the six people who tried to get the stolen property back when the shooting began.

"We went down to the camp and the guys came out," said Callaghan, who helped start the Van Isle Clean Team.

"One of the guys took a swing," he added. "Then everything kind of escalated from there. We managed to get all the stolen property together and when we got up the hill they were shooting at us."

Callaghan said the group of men from the encampment chased them across the highway and fired a rifle at them multiple times, eventually striking one man in the stomach. 

The Nanaimo RCMP are warning residents against similar acts of vigilantism.

"If the police had been contacted, we could have gone in and possibly resolved this situation safely," O'Brien said.

"The one thing we can't accept is people putting themselves in harm's way. This is a situation where somebody could have died as a result of stolen property. If they had contacted us, we could have resolved this peacefully."

Police are asking anyone with information or video of the incident to contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345. Top Stories

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