A series of youth-related disturbances had Waterloo Regional Police busy in Elmira last week.
A single male youth was walking near First and Arthur streets around 7 p.m. on September 28 when he was attacked by a group of young people. They stole some of his property, and he came out of it with some minor injuries.
The youth were early teenagers, said police spokesperson Cst. André Johnson.
That same night, around 8 p.m., a group associated with the male that was assaulted went after the first group of youth. In the process, two female youths were sprayed with a noxious substance the police believe to be bear spray. They were treated by paramedics and did not suffer major injuries.
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That same night around 9 p.m., the first group of youth that assaulted that male were approaching a Flamingo Drive location looking for youth in the other group. They scattered when confronted by some adults.
“It is a little unusual, and anytime we have groups of youth who are going back and forth in this manner, it is cause for concern. We do want to identify and figure out exactly who is involved, so that way we can try to prevent it from happening again in the future,” said Johnson.
The ages of the youth involved was early teens and both groups were a mix of males and females. Besides the bear spray, no other weapons are known to have been used that night, he said.
In March, local news outlets reported a rise in youth gang violence in the region since the fall of 2020, which was attributed to former police chief Bryan Larkin, though overall incidents of youth violence have remained the same.
Whether Wednesday’s incidents were connected to overall gang violence increase is unclear, said Johnson.
“Completely fair question. I don’t want to speculate at this point in time, just because we don’t necessarily know what might have caused this. So that will require further investigation. It’s too early to speculate.”
The most recent youth violence report was on Sunday morning at Fischer-Hallman Road and University Avenue West in Waterloo.
Johnson says the Waterloo Regional Police Service has a strong presence in Elmira.
“We do have dedicated officers that service our townships, as well as officers throughout the city. With incidents like this, we will always dispatch as many resources as required just to ensure the safety of all the residents in the area.”
People commented about the incident on Facebook.
“What we need is something that the kids can do besides roaming the streets looking for trouble,” said Bruce Fawcett on the Elmira general help and discussion group on Facebook.
“What’s to tell. A bunch of punks [whose] parents refuse to parent, wreaked havoc on a small town. When you have parents who think their job is to be ‘friends’ with their kids, you will get kids who have no respect for others,” said Lori Lee on the same group.
Police are seeking more information from the community.
“We do believe that this happened in residential areas, in areas where there were businesses as well. So we are asking people to review if they have doorbell cameras or surveillance cameras at their residences or perhaps even dash camera footage from vehicles, to just review it and take a look and if they do see or observe anything that we’ve described, to let our investigators know,” said Johnson.
Anyone with information is requested to contact Waterloo Regional Police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.