One man was shot, another was injured and two people are in custody after an altercation in or near a homeless encampment close to Nanaimo’s downtown.
Emergency services were called to Terminal Avenue near Bryden Street at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12, to a report of an altercation involving a firearm.
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said officers came across a group of individuals in the former White Spot parking lot and one of the people had sustained a gunshot wound.
According to a press release from the Newcastle Community Association, a “local businessman” and his friends were attempting to recover items that had been stolen from his business and had been spotted in the encampment along the Millstone River.
RCMP say multiple shots were fired and the victim was hit once. The gunshot victim sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries and one other person was also seriously injured in the altercation. Two people, both of whom had outstanding warrants, were taken into custody as persons of interest in the case but police have not yet determined the identity of the shooter and no charges have been laid related to the incident.
Officers, with the assistance of RCMP Police Dog Services, searched the encampment and seized a firearm.
“This is a significant, serious situation where somebody could have died and our understanding is that people may have gone there to retrieve certain items and it didn’t end well,” said O’Brien.
The community association is planning a press conference later today to provide further information about the incident and the homeless encampment that they say has been a “major source of crime, violence, and social disorder” for years.
“We understand … the public feels that because it happened in their neighbourhood, they want to draw attention to this,” O’Brien said. “We also have an investigation to do … It’s a very fluid, dynamic situation. We’re trying to ascertain what transpired.”
Police are asking anyone with further information or dashcam video to contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.