Saanich police are crediting a 17-year-old girl for intervening in a frightening abduction attempt that could’ve ended much worse for her friend, the targeted victim. And the suspect is now in police custody facing possible abduction and assault charges.
Multiple 9-1-1 calls from the 1700-block of De Sousa Pl. came in around 6:32 p.m. on Monday (Dec. 3), with witnesses reporting they could hear a female screaming.
One person who heard the screams, a 17-year-old girl, exited a De Sousa Place home to see her friend being dragged into a white U-Haul van parked in the driveway. She intervened and confronted the male suspect, who lashed out at her with an unknown weapon, resulting in lacerations.
“(The victim) did manage to remove herself from the van, while her friend intervened with the suspect,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen with Saanich police. “We believe that the direct actions of (her friend) really assisted with allowing the initial victim to escape the vehicle before it actually took off from the scene.”
The suspect fled in the van. Witnesses provided police with a description of the vehicle – a white 2012 Ford Econoline, with distinct U-Haul advertising on the sides – and its licence plate number.
One officer, on route to the crime scene, spotted a white van travelling from the area, in the opposite direction along Fairburn Drive, at a high rate of speed.
“The fleeing van actually altered its course, and at one point actually appeared to intend to strike the police vehicle. The patrol officer was luckily able to avoid contact, but had to take evasive action,” Jantzen said.
In the time it took that officer to turn around to pursue the van, the driver of the U-Haul made a couple of quick turns to evade capture.
Later in the evening, officers went block-by-block, driveway-by-driveway in Gordon Head, Jantzen said, in an attempt to locate the U-Haul. It was found abandoned behind Maria Montessori Academy in the 1800-block of Fairburn Dr.
Saanich police, with the assistance of Victoria police officers, contacted U-Haul and identified a potential suspect through the vehicle rental papers.
Officers arrested the suspect, a 34-year-old Saanich man, at 10:45 p.m., who was on foot near the corner of Cedar Hill Road and Hillside Avenue, about six kilometres away from the abandoned vehicle. Police won’t say how they located the suspect.
On Tuesday Jantzen said the investigation remains in its early stages, but it appears the suspect targeted his victim for abduction.
“The working belief right now of our investigators is this is likely specific and targeted. We just don’t understand the why,” Jantzen said. Detectives are still trying to determine any relationship between the suspect and either of the young victims.
The attempted abductee, also a 17-year-old girl, was not physically injured, but is traumatized, Jantzen said. Her friend, who intervened, was taken to hospital for stitches, but was released soon after.
Jantzen was adamant the incident does not appear to be related to any other crimes that police have investigated, responding to questions from media about links to the unsolved 2008 murder of Lindsay Buziak. The abduction attempt happened in the same four-house cul-de-sac where Buziak was murdered.
“There’s absolutely no linkages being drawn to other investigations,” he said.
Police executed a search warrant on the U-Haul vehicle Tuesday afternoon, and police expected to search the suspect’s home on Wednesday.
CFAX news has reported the suspect as Kian Chang, who is charged with attempted kidnapping, disguise with intent, assault and assault with a weapon. He was expected to appear in court on Thursday.
Detectives are asking for assistance from anyone who may have found discarded men’s clothing on Hillside Avenue near Hillside Centre on Monday.
Jantzen said the items would’ve likely been discarded on the south edge of the mall, between Shelbourne Street and Doncaster Drive. He said the items may be “pertinent to the abduction investigation.”
Anyone who may have picked up, moved or discarded men’s clothing is asked to call detectives at 250-475-4356.