Nanaimo attack: Police investigating ‘possible hate crimes’

A Vancouver Island University student says he left the island after being attacked this weekend for his sexual orientation.

Spencer Frey, 19, says the alleged attack happened at a house party, where several men beat him for being openly gay.

According to a social media post from Frey’s brother, Matthew Maclean, Frey was “sitting in a chair and minding his own business” when the attack took place.

Nanaimo RCMP says the attack ended after Frey’s friends intervened.

SUSPECT ARRESTED

Nanaimo RCMP has arrested a 19-year-old man for one count of assault, police said Wednesday afternoon, calling the attack a “possible hate crime”.

The suspect was arrested without incident on Tuesday around 10 p.m. He was later released from police custody with a warrant to appear in Nanaimo provincial court on May 24, the Mounties said.

“Violence of any kind is unacceptable, and especially when it comes to individuals who are supposedly being targeted because of their sexual orientation,” says RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien.

“We are aggressively pursuing this investigation and have contacted the victim to ensure he is supported as the investigation progresses.”

VIU says it offers support to Frey and his family and urges anyone with information to contact Nanaimo RCMP.

“VIU takes this very seriously and we are committed to partnering with the RCMP in their investigation,” said Irlanda Gonzalez Price, associate vice president of student affairs at VIU.

“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are committed to creating a space where everyone is welcome and everyone feels they belong,” she said.

VIU says it offers support to Frey and his family and urges anyone with information to contact Nanaimo RCMP.

In a social media post, BC Prime Minister John Horgan condemned the attack.

“There is NO place for homophobia or hatred of any kind in BC,” he wrote in a tweet

After the attack took place, Frey said he left the island to stay with relatives elsewhere.

Frey’s brother says he wants post-secondary institutions to introduce mandatory courses on diversity and acceptance to help prevent future attacks.

Vancouver Island University says it is expanding its programs on this topic.

“VIU continues to work with campus partners to enhance education and awareness activities that help build alliances,” said Price.

Police are continuing to investigate the attack and are calling on witnesses to come forward.

Anyone who was at the party and witnessed the incident is requested to contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.

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