The RCMP and B.C. Transit are investigating a rash of pellet gun shootings targeting buses in the Sooke area. Nine incidents have occurred since Oct. 31. No one has been injured and B.C. Transit services were not interrupted, but authorities are treating the situation very seriously.
“The safety of our employees and our customers is of paramount concern for B.C. Transit,” said Manuel Achadinha, B.C. Transit President and CEO, in a Nov. 18 press release.
No arrests have been made and police currently have no persons of interest in the case.
“The person responsible could be facing charges under the criminal code,” said Staff Seargent Steven Wright of the Sooke RCMP in a Nov. 6 press release. Elaborating in an interview, he said that the perpetrator or perpetrators could be looking at nine counts of mischief under $5 000.
Many of the buses were shot while travelling southbound along Sooke Road, between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. The shots struck the front windshield of each bus. B.C. Transit suspects the shots originated from an oncoming vehicle, due to the high accuracy and the amount of damage to the windshields. The total cost of the damage is not finalized, but B.C. Transit estimates at least $10 000.
In response to the shootings, B.C. Transit has posted extra personnel in each of the buses that have been targeted, in hopes that if another shooting occurs, an extra set of eyes will help determine where the gun is firing from. The RCMP has also taken “extraordinary measures,” said Wright, but at this time can’t give details, to protect the integrity of the investigation.
B.C. Transit has been unable to recover any of the pellets and can’t identify the exact type of weapon used. Pellet guns—also known as air guns—that can fire projectiles at a certain speed and force need to be registered and licenced under the Firearms Act. Less powerful air guns are exempt from these regulations but, when used to commit a crime, are considered firearms under the Criminal Code, which can raise the severity of a sentence.
“It’s disturbing that so many buses have been targeted for this kind of vandalism. It’s very dangerous,” said Wright.
In an effort to encourage the public to come forward with information, Crime Stoppers featured the case as a Crime of the Week from Nov. 17 to Nov. 28. Anyone with info is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the Sooke RCMP at 250-642-5241.