Neighbours shocked after mother fends off would-be mugger

SYLVIE PAILLARD / Kamloops Daily News
January 14, 2013 01:00 AM

Brocklehurst resident Rosemarie Van Tol avoids walking down a familiar path through her neighbourhood after hearing about the stabbing of a 25-year-old woman as she walked through the area with her one-year-old son.

The stabbing of a woman as she fended off a would-be mugger while clutching her one-year-old boy has rattled residents in Brocklehurst where the violence occurred.

The 25-year-old victim was on a path between Southill Street and the rear parking lot of the Brock Shopping Centre near the Cooper's on Tranquille Road with her young child Friday evening when a man dressed in black and a facemask tried to steal her purse.

She fought back, and during the altercation she suffered two stab wounds to her arm.

"It's crazy," said 32-year-old Rosemarie Van Tol.

For Van Tol, the incident is too close for comfort. She's also the mother of a young boy, lives in a townhouse along the same pathway, and routinely walks to the shopping centre.

She said she changed her routine immediately after hearing about the violence on TV.

"Since I heard that, I haven't been through there at all," she said. "And there are no lights back there."

Officers were dispatched to the emergency room at Royal Inland Hospital at about 9 p.m. Friday when the victim arrived with stab wounds, according to Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Fran Bethell.

The victim told police she was walking along the path behind the Brock Shopping Centre when she noticed the suspect following her.

She said the man rushed up behind her and she yelled at him to go away before he tried to take her purse. That's when she felt a pain in her arm.

Bethell didn't say how the victim got away, only that "she was able to make it home a few blocks away without further problems."

She then discovered she'd been stabbed and took a cab to the hospital. She has since been released.

"Fortunately the injuries are not life threatening," said Bethell.

Officers investigated, but were unable to find the suspect, who is described as more than five feet four inches tall with a stocky build and light skin.

Awareness of the dangerous surrounding you is the key, said Franco Monno, who accompanied Van Tol on her shopping excursion Sunday afternoon.

Having been born and raised in Vancouver's crime-ridden Downtown Eastside, Monno admits to being somewhat blasÉ about the Brocklehurst stabbing incident.

"Look at me, I'm desensitized to it, so it just shows where our society is at," he said.

But he believes it's time for Kamloops residents to wake up.

"Everything comes through here so people need to realize that it's getting bigger and it's going to get worse and it's going to get dangerous," said Monno. "I think people need to start just becoming aware."

Monno's comments echoed an RCMP warning to be extra vigilant.

Police are asking Brocklehurst residents to be alert, walk in groups, have a cell phone on hand and stay in well-lit areas that aren't isolated.

Anything suspicious should be reported to police at 250-828-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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