Students fall victim to pepper spray attack in Hub

Attack took place last Friday; resulted in victims being taken to hospital

Some of the victims of the pepper spray attack were inside Pizza Pizza at Princess and Division Streets when the spray wafted inside the restaurant.
Some of the victims of the pepper spray attack were inside Pizza Pizza at Princess and Division Streets when the spray wafted inside the restaurant.
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Thursday nights in Kingston’s entertainment district are routinely rowdy, but they rarely resemble the chaotic scene witnessed by clubgoers last week — an armed assault in the Hub.

Just before 2 a.m. on Friday, March 27, the Kingston Police were called in for an armed assault involving numerous victims near Princess and Division Streets.

According to the police, the suspects — an as-yet unidentified group of men — initiated an altercation with another group of men on the sidewalk. The victims abstained from fighting; the suspects then produced canisters of what is believed to have been pepper spray or “bear spray”.

The chemical agent was sprayed directly in the faces of the victims, and several witnesses became collateral damage.

Katie Purcell was walking past with two friends as the fight broke out. All three became victims of the spray attack.

“One guy was on top of another punching him and holding him down while another guy was repeatedly kicking him in the head on the ground,” said Purcell, ArtSci ’15.

“My friends and I were scared for his life. People around the area were screaming for the guys to stop and my friend ran to get the bouncers from Stages to step in.”

When asked about the spray, Purcell said, “It happened so fast — we were all instantly blinded. I didn’t know what was happening at first.” Purcell described the officers on scene as “unhelpful” and “unfriendly” towards her and her friends, stating that they were “not interested in talking with witnesses, what we saw [or] what happened”.

Purcell described the paramedics as “helpful and calm”, conversely, and added that victims were treated with “saline solution from drip bags”.

“The pain lasted for a while, but the saline solution helped a lot,” she said.

Adrienne Fanjoy and Tayte Lahnalampi, both ArtSci ’16, were in Pizza Pizza at the time, and attempted to aid the victims. According to Fanjoy and Lahnalampi, one of the victims involved in the fight was a visitor to Kingston from Thunder Bay, named “Thomas”.

Thomas told Fanjoy, Lahnalampi and First Responders that he got involved when he saw “a fight between two guys happening outside Pizza Pizza”, and that he and his friend “went and intervened”.

Fanjoy said the spray was unleashed beside the door, then “wafted inside, and suddenly everyone was bent over”.

She called the experience “surreal”, and said that “Thomas didn’t open his eyes for at least 20 or 30 minutes”.

Lahnalampi described the event as a “chaotic scene”.

In encountering the victim identified as Thomas, Lahnalampi said she “ran inside to get water for him but everyone inside was still covering their faces or bent over coughing, and one employee was hiding in a back room keeled over”.

“At first I heard six people were seriously affected,” Fanjoy said, “but that number kept going up.” According to Kingston Police, following the assault, one victim pursued his attacker down the street and restrained him nearby. Before officers could arrive on the scene, a second assailant continued the assault. The victim couldn’t fight both at once, and both suspects were subsequently able to flee.

Paramedics treated both victims and witnesses at the scene of the crime, and victims were then taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Kingston Police continue to seek any witnesses who may have information regarding the suspects’ identity. Smartphone photography or footage of the incident in particular is believed to contain valuable evidence.

Anyone who witnessed these events or has information with respect to this crime is asked to contact Detective Adam McMullen at 613-549-4660, ext. 6281 or by email at amcmullen@kpf.ca.

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or on the website at www.tipsubmit.com. Tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

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