After a long broadcasting career at CBC Radio, Neil Gillon, like many retirees, opted to spend the next stage of his life among the leafy, tree-lined streets of Vancouver’s mostly quiet West End.
The mayhem he and his wife, Lynn, encountered just outside their ground-floor apartment on Thursday night, however, was not quite what the couple had in mind. They were among seven victims of an attack by a man wielding a knife and possibly a hammer. A 33-year-old man faces multiple charges, including four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, three counts of common assault and one count of assaulting a police officer.
Mr. Gillon, known for his laid-back demeanour on air, was knocked unconscious during the attacks against individuals at the seven-storey Westpoint Terrace apartment building on Barclay Street.
His wife suffered cuts and bruises and a broken wrist, when a man slammed her into a wall and then began hitting her with what she believes was a hammer.
Two victims, one in serious condition, remain in hospital with stab wounds.
Mr. Gillon, 64, said Sunday he remembers little of the attack that sent him to hospital for a night.
“Mostly, I remember this banging on the door, and Lynn yelled that there was a stabbed girl there. I said, ‘Don’t go.’ But she went, and I don’t really remember anything from that point on, until I woke up in hospital some hours later.”
Ms. Gillon said her husband was punched after he came to her aid in the building’s lobby. “It knocked him right out.”
She said everything erupted so quickly, she didn’t have time to be scared.
“Someone banged on our door, and it was a young girl, obviously bleeding from her stomach,” Ms. Gillon recalled. “She said, ‘Come help. Come help.’ I went out and saw the guy right at her apartment door.
“He started to take after her. She got away, and then he just bashed me against the wall a couple of times.”
Ms. Gillon said the assailant left after he punched her husband. “Then he came back and found me sitting on the floor. He started hitting me on the head with a hammer.
“I started yelling ‘Help.’ He told me to shut up, so I shut up, and he stopped hitting me,” she said. “He took off upstairs and then the police came.”
She said she noticed little about the man who attacked her, except that “his eyes were just bizarre. Police asked me to describe him, and I said: ‘He had dark facial hair, and crazy eyes.’ That’s all I could say.”
Jerome Bonneric was arrested by police inside the apartment building, shortly after the attacks.
He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday morning in Vancouver.
Mr. Bonneric, who has described himself on various social-media links as someone with a background in real estate in Paris, recently left his job as a salesperson with Les Croissants’ Olivier, a gourmet bakery in Port Coquitlam.
An employee, who did not give his name, said Mr. Bonneric was “a nice guy.” His former boss, Olivier Audibert, has said in news reports that he had no problems with the accused’s work performance.
Ms. Gillon said she believed two young women who lived in the same apartment were the first targets of the series of assaults at Westport Terrace. “I didn’t know them, but I believe they were in their 20s. One of them was stabbed in the stomach. There’s no clue what might have set [the attacker] off.”
Despite the scary experience, the Gillons have no plans to move out.
“No, no,” said Ms. Gillon. “It was just a freak thing, a weird thing. We were back in our apartment Friday night, and it was fine. I don’t feel unsafe here at all.”