Gail Evans made eye contact with the driver. Then he raised what appeared to be a handgun and shot her.
Three times he pulled the trigger, striking Evans once. Her knees buckled, and he sped off down Whatcom Road.
Evans had just become one of at least nine people struck in more than a dozen pellet gun attacks across Abbotsford since July 18.
So far the injuries have been limited to painful welts – in Evans’ case several inches below her collarbone. But police say that’s just luck at this point.
“It’s fortunate that no one at this point has been struck in the face,” said Const. Ian MacDonald, who noted the incidents are being investigated as assaults with a weapon.
Evans was shot as she and her husband walked south on Whatcom near the intersection of Sandringham Drive around 8 p.m. Sunday evening. The shooter was in a dark-coloured vehicle, also driving south, and had just passed her. She glanced to her right and saw the young male driver – who appeared to have dark hair – raise his gun.
“You’re in shock when you see this happen,” she said. “Then you hear the noise and feel something. ‘What did he just shoot me with?’ was the first instinct. It’s not a nice feeling.’”
The attacks have taken place across the city with a cluster of assaults in the Clearbrook area, but other incidents have been reported as far east as Sumas Mountain and as far west as Mt. Lehman Road.
The targets seem completely random, MacDonald said.
“We’re getting different ages of people, different ethnicities of people,” he said.
“It’s a crime of stupidity, but it’s a crime of opportunity, too.”
Property has also been targeted, with car and house windows shattered.
A dark-coloured sedan has been described in all the incidents where a suspect vehicle was spotted, either by surveillance cameras or by victims.
Police believe the assailant is a man between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.
All the incidents have taken place between 3 p.m. and midnight.
MacDonald said there are also likely many incidents that have not been reported, because the shooter(s) have missed their targets, or because the people hit were struck in the clothing and not aware of the shooting.
“We’re probably looking at double that number,” MacDonald said of the attacks that officially number 15.
MacDonald said that while a similar sedan has been spotted in many incidents, he cannot say for sure whether the same suspect is responsible for every shooting. He said some witnesses have reported a single male driver, while others say they saw two people in the vehicle.
Police rarely see more than a handful of pellet or paintball incidents over an entire summer, he said.
As police consider if more than one person is responsible for the attacks, they have also floated the theory that a game or competition is being played, although there is no evidence yet to support that notion.
Police can’t say exactly what the weapon is, but in those cases where the gun was spotted, it appeared to be a handgun, which adds to the terror, MacDonald said.
Evans is still feeling the effects. Her welt is fading, but the experience of being shot is still vivid.
“I noticed last night when I was walking around the neighbourhood, a car slowed down behind me and my first reaction was to turn and kind of duck.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact police at 604-859-5225, or by text at 222973 (abbypd), or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477