More than 30 people were injured and several taken to hospital after a man unloaded a can of bear spray at patrons outside the FX nightclub.
Police and ambulance crews responded to a call about the incident at 2:05 a.m. Friday morning.
According to RCMP Constable Mark Zenko, two men were involved in an altercation at the nightclub earlier that evening.
“One of the men involved in the altercation came back later and sprayed five people who were standing outside the club,” Zenko said.
B.C. Ambulance Service spokesperson Kelsie Carwithen told the News that several people were treated at the scene.
Two ambulances were used to transport multiple patients to West Coast General Hospital where they received further medical treatment, Carwithen said.
Vancouver Island Health Authority spokesperson Shannon Marshall confirmed that several people were treated at WCGH after being bear sprayed.
All were treated and released, Marshall said.
Police found a spent can of bear spray at the incident but the suspect had fled.
The suspect is described by police as male, 40-45 years old, 5-10, 180 pounds with curly brown hair and crooked teeth.
He is also described as having a dark complexion but may be Caucasian, Zenko said.
According to Zenko, bear spray is a virulent chemical repellent whose main ingredient is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) – an oily, resin-like substance derived from hot peppers.
Police are equipped with pepper spray, which also has OC.
“But bear spray has a much higher concentration of OC, comes in a larger can, and has a spray radius of 30 feet,” Zenko said.
The suspect appeared to have targeted only the group of five.
But one witness who asked to remain anonymous said that more than 30 people who were milling around outside the nightclub were overcome by the spray.
“Everyone piled back into the club coughing, hacking and puking,” she said.
“That guy might have only meant to spray those five people but everyone ended up getting it.”