Exchange student injured in apparent robbery attempt

NANAIMO – Police release composite sketch to help find suspect who assaulted and injured a foreign student attending school in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who looks like this in connection with an assault and robbery attempt April 14.

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who looks like this in connection with an assault and robbery attempt April 14.

Police have turned to the public to help find a suspect behind an unprovoked assault against a international exchange student.

The assault happened April 14 at about 9:20 p.m.

The 17-year-old male student was walking on a trail between Shenton and Labieux roads when a man walked up and started a conversation with him.

Without provocation, the assailant punched the student in the jaw and demanded his iPod and wallet, police said.

The victim yelled at the suspect who fled toward Shenton Road empty-handed. The victim, an exchange student from Japan, ran home and told his caregivers who called police.

The victim’s jaw was broken in two places and required surgery.

“He had his jaw wired shut for six weeks,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “He just got the wiring out last week.”

O’Brien said the Japanese consulate has inquired about the incident and the victim’s family flew to Nanaimo to be with their son, but have since returned to Japan.

The victim remained in Nanaimo and is attending school.

Police released a composite sketch of the suspect Monday.

“One of the issues was a language barrier,” O’Brien said. “We actually ended up using two different translators to get the complete picture. Once the information was out, we were able to pull that together and we felt there was enough evidence provided so that we could pull in a forensic artist.”

O’Brien said the language barrier and the fact that a forensic artist could not be booked until early May caused delays in the investigation and getting information to the public.

“It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s better to take the time to get it right in the first place,” O’Brien said. “We’ve actually been internally reviewing that sketch within the last couple of days with school officials and from that we’ve identified possible [suspects], but that’s only one venue, so now it’s open to the public to see if we can get some corroboration with the suspects that have been identified too.”

Police found nothing to indicate the victim was targeted because he was a foreign student and the attack appears to be a random act of violence.

The suspect is described as Caucasian in his late teens or early 20s with short blonde hair and a goatee-style beard. He wore a baseball cap backwards, baggy jeans and a dark shirt at the time of the assault.

Anyone with information about this incident, or the identity of the suspect, is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at