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Thorold woman assaulted during rowdy street party on Winterberry

Over 200 students kept neighbours up with their loud, out-of-control partying on Saturday; 'This party gave everybody PTSD of what we remember of the previous years'

A Thorold woman was assaulted during a rowdy street party in Confederation Heights on Saturday night.

A large crowd of young people gathered at a house on Winterberry Blvd., and kept neighbours up with their loud, out-of-control partying.

After the police showed up and dispersed the party, a group of youngsters ended up attacking a nearby neighbour when she tried to get them to leave her driveway.

The incident was discussed during a meeting of the city’s Town and Gown Committee on Monday morning.

“We were doing very well as a neighbourhood with the students,” said resident Marsha Coppola. “This party on the weekend gave everybody PTSD of what we remember of the previous years.”

A representative of the NRPS, Virginia Moir, told committee members that there were an estimated 200 to 250 students present at the party.

Local resident Rosie Gowsell tells ThoroldToday that she was shocked to come home on Saturday night, to find that she was not able to reach her house.

“We didn’t even see all the people at first, we just saw all the flashing lights,” she says. “I was furious because we’ve seen this before.”

The area around Winterberry Blvd. has long been known for its problematic student houses.

“We are frequently woken up by screaming and yelling parties at two, three o’clock in the morning,” Gowsell says. “Sometimes you can’t tell if it’s the coyotes yipping or if it’s the parties. Sometimes it's both.”

While the area has been more quiet in recent years, Saturday’s night of debauchery saw residents relive their worst nightmares.

Police say they were called on the scene at 10:22 p.m., in response to a report of a large party.

“The crowd was found to be a mix of young adults (18-20s yrs.) and teens,” reads a police release. “Some people in attendance were also believed to be from outside the Niagara Region. Investigation determined it was a planned party with entertainment provided (DJ) with underage drinking.“

As the party was dispersed, pockets of partygoers continued to loiter on nearby streets.  

Shortly after midnight, the NRPS received a 911 call regarding an assault that had just occurred in the area of Silver Maple Rd. and Winterberry Blvd.  

“Officers attended a home and met with three victims suffering from injuries related to being punched, kicked, and stomped,” reads the police release. “The two female victims (59 yrs. and 28 yrs.) and the male victim (27 yrs.) were assessed and treated at the scene by Niagara Emergency Services paramedics.”

The initial investigation determined that a group of partygoers had been found trespassing on the victim’s property. When they were told to leave, the group of 10 persons began assaulting one of the female victims. Her family and a friend came to her aid, and they were also assaulted. The group fled prior to the police's arrival.

Local resident Gary Citrigno told the Town and Gown Committee on Monday that he witnessed the aftermath of the attack.

“I went outside and my neighbour across the street, she is bleeding from the face,” he told committee members. “It’s pretty disturbing when you see a woman laying on the driveway with her face all bloodied.”

Gowsell was also a witness to the aftermath, and she says the incident has left her reeling.

“These are residential homes that we work hard to pay for,” she says. “Now we have roving mobs of students, jumping people who are defending their property? This is where we live now?”

While the police was eventually able to disperse the crowd, Citrigno said that the students showed no fear.

“[Police] were there and I know their hands were tied, but basically they were spectators,” he told the Town and Gown Committee. “These kids aren’t afraid of the police. They just laugh at them.”

Darryl Veld, who is the Associate Director of Student Affairs at Brock University, told committee members, that he believed the party did not involve Brock students.

“Our campus security provided us with some information that leads us to think that it might have been high school students renting an AirBnB in the area,” he said. “It’s a little preliminary to have any confirmation but most of our students haven’t returned yet. Their big moving date is next weekend.”

While Gowsell says that there were high school kids, she also saw a lot of older students.

“Those kids that were standing around our house were maybe high school age but the ones we saw in the intersection were university-aged,” she tells ThoroldToday. "If they didn’t start the party, they were at the party because I saw it with my own two eyes.”

The representative of the NRPS, Virginia Moir, said that the police can't do much against such a big crowd.

“There’s only so many of us working at a time,” she told Town and Gown Committee members. “We can’t go up against 200 kids, obviously.”

Moving forward, the NRPS intends to work more closely with the Thorold by-law department to fine the owners of the student rental properties, for their tenants’ behaviour.

“We just share the incident number with by-law and they will go and issue those administrative penalties to the owners of the residences,” Moir said. “The kids are going to lose their deposits and they can get evicted from their residences as well.”

Gowsell thinks it’s up to Brock University to be more proactive. 

“I think Brock has a duty to speak up,” she says. "I’ve lived here since 2009 and we didn’t always have Brock students here. Once the Brock students started moving in, the parties started. Brock has a responsibility for this."

The NRPS is currently trying locate the suspects of the assault. The victims were able to describe two of the suspects:

Suspect 1

  • Black male
  • 17-19 years of age
  • 5’9 -5’10 feet tall
  • Slender build
  • Dreadlock style hair
  • Wearing Black sweatshirt, red gym style shorts, black balaclava ski mask with eye and mouth openings

Suspect 2

  • Black female
  • 17-19 years of age
  • Black hair with two large braids extending to her waist.
  • Wearing Black mesh off the shoulder top and a white short skirt

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the investigating officers by calling 905-688-4111, option 3, extension 1009222.

Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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