A pregnant Nanaimo woman was hit in the stomach with a brick while trying to shield her young daughter from an unprovoked attack in downtown Nanaimo on Monday.
The woman, in the late stages of her pregnancy, was rushed to hospital, where she is in stable condition, RCMP Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien said in an interview. He said the four-year-old daughter was traumatized.
“It was a tragic and traumatizing situation for this woman, who was trying to protect her daughter,” he said.
O’Brien said the family was the victim of “someone in an extreme mental health crisis.”
Witnesses told police a 37-year-old woman became violent in the downtown area Monday afternoon. She had to be removed from a restaurant and then started striking out at random people along the street. Several bystanders tried to calm her, to no avail.
The woman made her way to Museum Way, where she picked up a brick and threw it at the mother and her four-year-old daughter, who were only about three feet away, O’Brien said.
“She was screening her daughter, who would have been hit by that brick, and, unfortunately, the brick hit in the area of her unborn baby,” he said.
The woman had to be restrained by several people, including downtown security staff, until police arrived.
O’Brien said the woman is well known to Nanaimo RCMP and is facing charges of with assault with a weapon. She was taken into custody and transported to the Nanaimo courthouse Tuesday, where she was awaiting an appearance before a judge.
O’Brien said police are concerned about increasing violence related to mental-health issues in the Nanaimo core.
“It’s almost a daily occurrence now … where people in mental health crises just lose control,” he said. “Sadly, violence breaks out and innocent people get hurt.”
According to data recently released by Statistics Canada, Nanaimo had a crime severity index of 129.70 in 2021 — well above the B.C. average of 92.86 but below the 148.43 seen in Victoria. The index measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime.
Nanaimo’s 2021 number represents a jump from 2017, when it was 97.78. The highest number seen in the past five years was 142.51 in 2019.