Staff at nearby businesses unnerved by severe beating at Earl's

A brutal daylight beating outside the Earl's restaurant has left employees at nearby Sahali businesses shaken by the violence.

With no suspects in custody nor a victim to question, RCMP are able to provide few details about what they are calling a violent gang-related attack.

Myrna Ordona works at the Urban Barn furniture store. She wasn't on duty when the assault occurred, but felt uneasy knowing it had.

But, given all the gang coverage in the media, she's not surprised the attack happened, said Ordona.

"I feel like, lately in the news, you just hear about something like this happening, whether it's in Kamloops or Vancouver," she said. "The fact that it happened at Earl's, it's shocking. I'm kind of curious myself about why it happened."

Const. Bernie Ward said investigators haven't identified a specific gang. They will say that witness statements suggest the men aren't from Kamloops.

"We're working on that aspect of it. At this point we cannot say we're pointing toward any one group," Ward said during a press conference Monday.

"We're saying we've got a group of common-minded people coming together and, when things don't go right, the level of violence is extreme."

He assured the public what happened outside the Earl's restaurant Sunday afternoon poses no risk to the public. But Ward said police are concerned about the health of the victim.

With every major highway and railway in the province passing through Kamloops, it makes sense that a criminal element would be attracted to the city, said Coun. Marg Spina.

Police have made it clear that gangs are not tolerated in the city, said Spina, a member of the City's co-ordinated enforcement task force. But RCMP need the public to report suspicious people and activity if incidents like this are to be prevented.

"When people notice anything different or people who aren't usually in Kamloops, it's a good idea to pass the word," said Spina.

RCMP were dispatched to the Sahali restaurant at about 4:30 p.m. Police determined the group was drinking inside the restaurant prior to the attack.

In the parking lot outside the restaurant, the group turned on one of their own, repeatedly kicking him. Witnesses told police the victim was seriously injured and likely required medical attention, said Ward.

"The level of violence is at the far end. That's our concern," he said. "It's something amongst them. It's the degree they will go to make their point."

The victim was loaded into a vehicle by one of the group. Both assailants and victim were gone by the time police arrived.

What's needed is help from the public. Ward said police want to know why this took place, how badly hurt the victim is and if he received medical help.

"We want to talk to these folks and determine what went on," he said. "Somebody can pass away after the fact. They could be fine. We don't know."

Cindy Humphrey of Earl's said a group of about 10 men were in the restaurant for about a half hour before the attack happened.

She said some among the group might have been involved in the attack, but she doesn't know for sure.

An employee at the nearby Starbucks said she's terrified knowing a violent incident occurred near her work.

"It's not a good thought that somebody was getting beaten up outside the Earl's," she said.

Humphrey said it's upsetting to hear about someone being violently attacked, no matter where it happened.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing," she said, adding staff is co-operating with police.

Kamloops Mounties are geared toward keeping gangs out of the city. This latest incident should concern residents about gangs moving into town, said Ward.

He said the police are mindful of who is coming to town and work toward keeping unsavoury elements out.

"At this point, let's see what comes of this," said Ward.

Anyone with information is asked to phone RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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