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Drunks, brawlers, vandals keep Island police busy over New Year's weekend

Jan 02 2012

New Year’s Eve antics on southern Vancouver Island saw everything from a man sent to a Victoria hospital with serious injuries to his torso to vandalism at a Cedar school.

Victoria police received 140 calls for service, with 21 people arrested overnight and into the morning of New Year’s Day.

The majority of this weekend’s calls dealt with alcohol abuse and related house parties, Const. Mike Russell said.

In the most serious incident in Victoria, a 17-year-old View Royal youth was arrested after a fight involving a weapon that sent another young man to hospital.

Victoria police responded to a 911 call about a fight on Cook Street near Hillside Road about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

A 23-year-old Victoria was treated by paramedics and rushed to hospital with serious internal injuries, Russell said. The victim underwent surgery and is expected to recover.

The first call Victoria police received on New Year’s Day involved an alleged drunk driver in Esquimalt.

The 35-year-old Esquimalt resident was arrested with a blood-alcohol level that police said was more than double the legal limit, police said.

Traffic section officers were called to the intersection of Lampson and Wordsley streets at 12:04 a.m. after a witness from a nearby residence called police to say an extremely intoxicated man had just driven from the area in a 2007 Dodge Caravan.

Officers then pulled over a vehicle at Esquimalt Road and Lampson Street. The driver was taken into custody, but has since been released pending a future court date.

Another impaired driver also was arrested Sunday, thanks to a call to police from a concerned citizen, Russell said.

The fact that New Year’s Eve fell on a Saturday night caused double-trouble for police.

In Saanich, there were at least nine arrests related to New Year’s Eve, Staff Sgt. Mark Muth said. “It was a very busy night.”

The mayhem started about 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a fight involving a baseball bat at McKenzie Avenue and Borden Road.

Two males — an adult and a youth — were taken into custody. The pair face charges of possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes, Muth said.

A shed fire in the 3200 block of Shelbourne Street, reported at 12:35 a.m. Sunday, is also considered suspicious, Muth said.

In Cedar, Woodbank Primary School was the central target in what police called a “rampage” in the neighbourhood of Woodbank and Storey roads.

One suspect, a youth, was arrested and later released to his parents. Police are investigating and suspect up to five others were involved.

“There’s thousands and thousands of dollars’ damage,” Nanaimo RCMP Sgt. Marc Pelletier said. “It’s going to cost the taxpayer a pretty penny to get all that fixed.”

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, windows were smashed and fire extinguishers were sprayed throughout the school.

“It’s a mess in there,” Pelletier said. New glass was being installed by contractors Sunday while police officers searched for clues.

The suspects carried on along Storey Road, where they tore up neighbourhood lawns and properties. They broke a garage door, pulled up an irrigation system, smashed cars and pulled down Christmas displays, police said. They even banged on one neighbour’s door.

“They went on a rampage,” Pelletier said. “They were terrorizing the neighbourhood.”

A watchful neighbour kept an eye on the suspects as they fled and helped lead police to the arrested suspect.

New Year’s Eve is typically one of the busiest days of the year, behind Canada day and Halloween.

Last year, there were 114 calls for service on New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, with 25 individuals arrested, Victoria police said Sunday.

An average day for the Victoria police sees about 150 calls for service in a 24-hour period, police said.

By late Sunday morning, most of the people arrested by Victoria police on New Year’s Eve had been released from custody.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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