Three unprovoked assaults in same area in Timmins concern residents and police
Timmins resident Robert Joseph points down the street to show CTV News where he lives. He says he's lived around the area of Fifth Avenue most of his life, but he no longer feels safe in the neighbourhood. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)
TIMMINS -- There have been three random and unprovoked assaults in Timmins in the past two weeks. Police say it's unusual for the city, but there is a hot spot area and they will ramp up patrols there.
Timmins resident Robert Joseph told CTV News that he's lived in the area of Fifth Avenue most of his life, but he said the neighbourhood just isn't the same anymore.
"After 6 p.m. I stay home," Joseph said.
Since July 21, there have been three assaults nearby. Police say all were unprovoked and victims required medical attention.
The first one July 21 involved two youths who were attacked by three other teens at the Fifth Avenue/Cedar Street north intersection.
The second one happened a block south, at the Cedar Street and Algonquin Boulevard intersection on July 29. Police say a 68- year old man was kicked and pushed to the ground by a 30-year-old man, who police say was having a mental-health related issue and they suspected to be impaired by drug.
Cane used as a weapon
And the most recent assault on a 36-year-old man happened on Aug. 3, also at Fifth and Cedar.
"He had some form of mobility issue and had a home fashioned cane of some sort that was taken from him and used as a weapon," said Marc Depatie, communications coordinator for the Timmins Police Service.
Police say two men – brothers -- in their late 20s have been arrested and charged in connection to the attack. They're also accused of stealing money from the victim.
People of all backgrounds live around the area of the assaults: there's a seniors' complex, single family homes and apartment buildings.
"It's not safe for a senior, it's not safe for raising a family around this area. It's really bad," said Joseph.
He's not the only one who feels that way. A woman who did not want to be named said she often sees people huddling together outside, exchanging money and pills. Two weeks ago, police conducted a drug bust near her home on Fifth Avenue and arrested several people.
She and Joseph said seeing people high on drugs in their neighbourhood is a daily event.
Downtown Timmins officials said now that people are coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown, the issue has to be addressed.
"We have to look at it from a city perspective," said Noella Rinaldo, executive director for Downtown Timmins BIA and a Timmins city councillor. "We can put the emphasis on the downtown at certain times, but I think it's a city issue that we have deal with this really large concern which is the drug issue."
Police assure they will give even more attention to the hot-spot area.
"In response to this, Timmins Police Service is engaging in enhanced usage of its 'SOCS program': Street Outreach and Community Safety team, as well as platoon officers are being instructed to pay particular attention to foot patrols in this area as well," said Depatie.
On the positive side, Depatie pointed out that investigators have located suspects in relation to all three assaults thanks to information from witnesses and surveillance cameras. He said all six suspects are now before the courts, answering to the charges laid against them.