A Victoria, B.C. woman who believed she was being followed by a man during her walk home is using the unsettling experience to encourage others to be vigilant.
Carol Linnitt said she was walking east of downtown Victoria on Nov. 26 when she “felt a presence” behind her.
“I was sort of feeling that there was maybe someone behind me,” she told CTV Vancouver Island on Wednesday. “I was sort of glancing over my shoulder a little bit, couldn’t really see anyone.”
When she stopped at an intersection to wait for a red light, Linnitt said she turned around and saw a man standing close behind her.
“He had these dark piercing eyes, hollowed cheeks, and [he] locked eyes with me,” Linnitt said.
Unnerved by the encounter, Linnitt said she entered a nearby pet store to wait for the man to walk away. Instead, she says he man stood across the road from the shop.
“He was just standing across the street just waiting for me to come back out of the store,” Linnitt said.
At that point, the journalist said she called her husband.
“I said ‘I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I might be being followed, and I just have a bad feeling. Can you come pick me up?’” she recalled.
Linnitt said the man who had been following her walked away when he saw her on the phone in the store.
When her husband arrived minutes later, Linnitt said they drove around the neighbourhood to see where the man had gone. They eventually caught up with him and Linnitt said he appeared to be following another young woman carrying a yoga mat as she walked and talked on the phone.
Linnitt said her husband stopped the car and she got out to tell the woman that she was being followed by the same man who trailed her earlier. The couple then gave the law student, who was named Kelly, a ride to her yoga class.
“I have to admit I was pretty startled when Carol jumped out of her car and ran over to me that evening,” Kelly said. “Even though I had no idea whether the man behind me was actually dangerous, I was empowered by the way Carol trusted her intuition to look out for my own safety.”
Linnitt said she reported the man to police who caught up with him a short time later. In a Facebook post recounting the incident, Linnitt shared that police had called her back to tell her she was right to trust her instincts and the man in question is a “bad guy.”
Const. Matt Rutherford, a Victoria police spokesperson, acknowledged that the man is known to them and they’ve had interactions with him in the past. He said they spoke with him, but there was no reason to arrest him.
Linnitt’s detailed Facebook post about the incident has since been shared more than 2,600 times and has attracted hundreds of comments, most of which praise Linnitt for sharing her story and letting others know about the man who followed her.
“I don't want this to be a story about people being afraid to walk around,” she said. “This is really a story about how can we register people's needs on the streets in a way where we can all make each other safer.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Yvonne Raymond