RCMP are investigating a reported pepper-spray attack in Surrey that has left a Syrian family terrified in their own home.
Surrey RCMP believe the incident was a case of mistaken identity.
Nouraddin Hnash, his wife and his three sons moved to Surrey about four years ago. He told Global News he hasn’t made any enemies in that time and can’t imagine why someone would attack his family.
But at around 8 p.m. on Dec. 19, someone did. Hnash says he heard the doorbell ring at his townhouse unit in the 800 block of 102 Avenue, but when he looked through the peephole, he couldn’t see anything.
When he opened the door, Hnash says someone pushed it wider, reached in with a can of pepper spray and let the chemical loose in their front hallway.
He describes the feeling as “fire in my face” and says he yelled to his family to get out of the house. It was his wife’s screaming they believe scared the intruder off.
Hnash’s sons — Mohamed, 10, and Youssef, 8 — both got the spray in their eyes and were treated by first responders at the scene, he says. Hnash’s third son was uninjured.
They’re now afraid to sleep alone.
“It’s really, really scary. I’m worried about what if he comes back again, or maybe he didn’t even go out, maybe he’s still inside,” said Mohamed.
“If he comes back again. If he comes back and pepper sprays us again,” said Youssef.
Hnash describes the person at the door as tall and heavyset with a mustache, though he says it is hard to be sure because he was quickly blinded by the spray.
Surrey RCMP Const. Richard Wright says police continue to investigate the incident.
“It’s nasty when something like this happens, especially to someone who doesn’t deserve it,” said Wright.
“And in this case, these people are wholly innocent, and this is a case of mistaken identity from early indications in our investigation.”
Police do not have a suspect or motive in mind, but a neighbour told Global News the attack may have been intended for her son.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Surrey RCMP.