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Random beating raises questions about Kelowna safety

A seemingly random beating has cast a pall over a recent weekend festival  and once again raised questions about the safety of Kelowna's downtown.

Following the Centre of Gravity event during August long weekend, two young men from Clearwater were  brutally attacked near the corner of Bernard Avenue and Ellis Street in a manner that seems to be increasingly common.

"My son and his friend (Liam, Jesse) were walking back to their hotel room late Sunday night when they were assaulted by a group of six males.," wrote Clearwater resident Bob Dhillon into the Capital News last week.

"Bystanders called 911. An ambulance arrived and both were hospitalized with serious facial injuries. While in the hospital my son spoke with three other persons  who were also hospitalized with similar injuries and assaulted in a similar way. Outnumbered and surprised by the same group."

Although the investigating officer in this case went on his days off immediately after the file was opened, Const. Kris Clark has done some follow up  and says he's seen nothing to relate this incident to any other.

"There was one other unprovoked attack, and that entailed a single suspect and a single victim," said Clark.

He says there's also nothing to relate the recent incident to a swarming that put a 34-year-old Ontario man into the hospital last March. In that case, the victim suffered massive head injuries when three men attacked him outside O'Flannigans Pub.

While the violent outbursts may not involve the same people, they do speak to an emerging trend.

"(Swarmings) do seem to be more prevalent, in that it does happen more often than it used to," said Clark.

And, he said, it doesn't take long for those kinds of fights to escalate into serious injuries.

Facial reconstruction surgery is required for the Clearwater victims and the Ontario man was placed into a medically induced coma to cope with the wounds he incurred.

To be safe, Clark said it's best not to navigate the downtown alone late at night. Avoid drinking to inebriation and avoid conflict if at all possible.

"If someone is being aggressive or wanting to fight, you don't have to man up and fight them back," said Clark.

"Say you don't want to fight, and get out. Go somewhere…to a well-lit area with more people around."

The investigation into the recent attack hasn't gotten underway given that the police officer with the file has been on vacation, but any tips to police would be welcomed.

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