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Homophobic man dumps shell casings outside club

Jun 26 2012

Victoria police are looking for a man who threatened a group of patrons outside a downtown nightclub that caters to the gay community.

The incident has been classified as a hate crime, and the investigation will involve the police department's hate-crime liaison.

Victoria police Staff Sgt. Darren Laur said a man in his 20s approached patrons sitting outside the Paparazzi Nightclub, 642 Johnson St., about 8 p.m.

Sunday and began talking to them.

His talk turned into homophobic comments and threats, and then he threw empty shell casings at their feet.

Police were called and attended immediately, but the man was gone. Police spent much of Monday looking for surveillancevideo footage in the area of the club, which is located on Lower Johnson Street.

"Specific to what happened at the club, it was highly unusual," Laur said. "We've had some challenges with individuals who target that community in the past, but not something like this.

"This is quite out of the norm."

Attila Bassett, an employee at the club, said staff and clients of Paparazzi are feeling upset after a rash of homophobic activities, including the posting of derogatory comments and death threats on an online forum.

"It's getting out of line," Bassett said Monday evening. "Now it's escalating into bullet shell-casings - it's getting out of hand."

The website includes negative comments posted anonymously about members of the gay and lesbian communities "and you can't get it down - it's tagged to your name forever," said Bassett.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Victoria police tip line at 250-995-7444 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

It's the second time in June that police have investigated an apparent hate crime.

Earlier this month, notes containing homophobic language and a message for immigrants to "go home" were taped on the window of Aubergine Specialty Foods on Gladstone Avenue in Fernwood.

The grocery store, which sells South African products and kosher items, displays the rainbow pride flag in its window in support of the local gay community.

A surveillance camera inside the store recorded video that showed a man taping two pre-written notes to the front windows. The man was described as in his early 30s, with thick, light-brown hair and facial hair.

Other recent hate crimes in Victoria include anti-Semitic vandalism at a Jewish cemetery on Dec. 31, 2011, and in a playground in May 2010. jwbell@timescolonist.com

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