A man is facing assault charges after two women reported being punched by a stranger while walking in downtown Victoria on Friday.
Police were called about 3 p.m. Friday to an assault in the area of Johnson and Wharf streets. A woman told officers a stranger had punched her without provocation.
Bystanders followed the man and detained him for police.
He was taken to Victoria police cells, where police say he set upon an officer. The officer was unhurt.
As officers investigated, they learned of another assault that had taken place shortly after the one at Johnson and Wharf.
In that case, a pregnant woman told police she was punched while in the 900 block of Pandora Avenue, between Quadra and Vancouver streets. She was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are recommending the man be charged with two counts of assault, one count of assaulting a police officer and one count of breaching a conditional-sentence order.
Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray said he was sorry to learn about the “unnerving” reports.
“Obviously very distressing to hear news like that and hopefully the individuals are OK,” he said. “Nobody should have to experience that regardless of whether it’s downtown or any other neighbourhood.”
Despite what happened, Bray said downtown is “extremely safe.”
“Thousands of people still come into downtown every day, people live downtown,” he said. “So even with COVID, there’s still lots of eyes on the street, lots of businesses are open and restaurants are open.”
Victoria police Const. Cam MacIntyre said incidents like those on Friday do not occur often.
“It’s uncommon for someone like this to just randomly assault two women,” he said. “Typically we see violence, in many ways, isolated within the criminal community or within the drug-trafficking, and this is not the case here.
“I think people can take some measure of safety from that. However, there’s no doubt it’s concerning.”
MacIntyre said both the public and police are understandably concerned when random violence happens.
“Just know that we are, at any given time, a very short distance away in this community and if people need us, they can always call us.”
Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654, extension 1, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).