Victoria man says he was beaten and robbed outside of tent city
A Victoria man claims he was swarmed, assaulted and robbed by a group of hooded men as he walked by tent city.
Aaron Locke, 22, has alopecia and said he was also called a “Nazi” and “skinhead” by the group as they beat him in the middle of the street.
Locke was walking home from the Sticky Wicket Pub in downtown Victoria Tuesday night when he said he spotted a woman near Christ Church Cathedral.
“I see a woman standing on the sidewalk kind of just holding like a man-made flail, almost, like a medieval-type weapon,” he told CTV News. “I try to start walking down the middle of the road, and she follows me, so as I get closer she starts mumbling and as I’m trying to go by her she’s shuffling and not letting me go by.”
Locke said he raised his voice and asked the woman to get out of his way, and she began to yell.
Now walking in the middle of the street, he turned on to Burdett Avenue and said that’s when the men emerged from the encampment at the Victoria Courthouse.
“Out of nowhere, six to eight guys just all coming running out the front gates of tent city, all with their hoods up,” he said. “One guy had a bandana on his face. So I’m backing up and they just surround me pretty much.”
That’s when the calls of “Nazi” began, and soon the group swarmed Locke, he said.
“Out of nowhere, one guy just swings. I can see him out of my peripherals, and he gets me right there,” he said, pointing to a wound above his upper lip. “That’s when I hit the ground. It seemed like forever. They punched me, kicked me a few times. Before I got away, one of the guys reached in my back pocket and actually grabbed my cell phone.”
He said the group scurried off into tent city as he ran to a nearby apartment building and started buzzing random numbers hoping someone would answer.
They did, and police eventually arrived to investigate.
He said police told him there was “no chance” he’d be seeing his stolen cell phone again.
The next day, he said he was told police asked around tent city about the incident and were met with silence.
“As for identifying anyone, they all had their hoods up, so [police] said that way, there’s pretty much no chance anyone will be charged,” Locke said.
Police confirmed they are investigating the allegation and said no arrests have been made so far.
The frightening experience now has Locke constantly looking over his shoulder and avoiding the route, he said.
“It’s disappointing. I’ve lived in Victoria my whole life. I’ve walked past tent city every day since they’ve been there and I’ve never really had much of an issue,” said Locke. “It’s just scary, man, in your own neighbourhood. I don’t even feel safe. I’m always looking behind my shoulder.”
He wants the alleged attack to serve as a wake-up call that conditions are getting worse around the controversial encampment.
“It’s only gonna get worse,” he said. “I’m by no means a bad guy, I don’t go looking for trouble. For them to just start attacking people, it’s pretty crazy.”
Yesterday, B.C.’s child and youth advocate issued her own warning about tent city, saying the entrenchment of the camp with running water and toilets will cause more youth to be attracted to it.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled last month that campers can remain at tent city through the summer.
The province’s permanent injunction request to evict campers from the lawn will be heard in court Sept. 7.