Saanich police to step up patrols after large gathering of teens amid COVID-19 concerns
VICTORIA -- Saanich police are stepping up patrols and asking parents to teach their children about proper physical distancing after video surfaced of a large gathering on Friday.
People living on Carey Road called police after about 20 to 30 young people were making noise behind Northridge Elementary school just before 10 p.m.
Sarah Wakefield said she looked outside at about 10 p.m. to see a sprawling crowd walking by her house.
“They just kept coming along the sidewalk and spilling into the street,” she said. “Stopping to yell-talk at each other in front of our house in clusters of 10 to 30 on either side of the street.”
A video of the incident was sent to CTV News showing teenagers, some hugging, gathered on a street. The man who filmed the video said one of the teens pulled out a knife.
Saanich police said they received 13 complaints about the gathering. By 11 p.m., they were told over 100 teenagers were on the street and were becoming verbally aggressive and attempting to damage property at a home.
“I believe there was someone’s mailbox damaged and a report that someone had a motorcycle outside [that] the youth may have been trying to damage,” said Saanich police Cost. Markus Anastasiades.
Officers spoke to some of the teens and learned there were weapons involved, including a baton possibly a knife brandished by one of the youths.
“The suspect was believed to be at the school with the weapons,” said Anastasiades. “The officers then made their way to the school to locate the suspects when they were flagged down by residents.”
Saanich police say they investigated and no charges or fines were issued.
“Not to my knowledge any liquor was seen or consumed and I don’t believe any tickets were issued,” he said. “We don’t have enforcement measures in place for COVID-19 or physically distancing, we don’t have authority to write tickets for that.”
In the video one youth can be heard approaching the man filming to say he was sorry.
Anastasiades is asking parents to sit down with their kids to a conversation about their role in public safety.
“Really now is the time to do that. We don’t want to see these large events, especially during COVID times right now,” he said. “We definitely don’t want to point out all youth because the majority are doing a great job.”
Extra police patrols will take place on Friday night in the area to prevent such gatherings, he said.