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Victoria police increase patrols after multiple youth pepper spray assaults

A canister of pepper spray is shown in this undated file photo. A canister of pepper spray is shown in this undated file photo.
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Victoria police say they are stepping up their patrols in the neighbouring community of Esquimalt after five assaults involving pepper spray were reported in recent days.

All of the reported incidents involved youths fighting, the Victoria Police Department said in a release Thursday.

Officers were called to the area of Esquimalt Road and Fraser Street twice on May 17 for separate pepper spray complaints.

The first incident involved a male youth who was approached by a group of young people who were acting aggressively, according to authorities.

"The victim tried to walk away but was followed by one of the males from the group who then pepper sprayed the victim in the face and torso," police said.

A suspect was located and arrested before he was released at home with a scheduled court date, police said.

The second incident occurred in the same area about an hour later, when police say a fight broke out between 20 to 30 young people.

"Officers attended and many of the youths dispersed, were unco-operative with police or provided conflicting accounts of what occurred," the department said.

"No arrests were made, and the remaining youths were either picked up by caregivers or driven home by officers."

Police say the fight did not result in significant injuries but one of the youths was treated by paramedics after being pepper sprayed.

"This marks the fifth reported incident of youth assaults involving pepper spray in one week," Victoria police spokesperson Const. Terri Healy said in the release.

"Some youth in these groups are coming from neighbouring municipalities and causing a disturbance in Esquimalt. In response to this recent uptick, we will be increasing our proactive patrols in the Esquimalt area over the next few weekends."

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the E-Comm report desk at 250-995-7654.

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