The Vancouver Police Department says an attack on an 87-year-old Chinatown resident on Friday morning appears to be racially motivated.
According to police, the senior was out for a morning walk and was standing near a bus stop close to the intersection of Pender Street and Columbia Street when a man came up to him around 11:40 a.m. PT Friday.
The suspect allegedly made racist comments and bear-sprayed the senior in the face. The suspect then ran away, while nearby business staff and passersby helped the victim, said police.
“[The victim] was traumatized by the incident, but has non-life-threatening injuries,” Cst. Tania Visintin said in a statement. “Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hate.”
Police said community members they have spoken to for the investigation believe the attack may have been motivated by people speaking out about crime and safety in Chinatown.
VPD say there was a 425 per cent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes between 2019 and 2021, and say the force’s hate crimes unit is now investigating the case.
The attacker was caught on CCTV, according to police, who are asking the public to help identify him.
He is described as being between 30 and 40 years old and standing about six feet or 1.8 metres tall. He was wearing a black jacket, dark coloured pants, grey baseball cap, and grey shoes at the time of the incident. The suspect was also carrying a black backpack.
Anyone who has information or anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call VPD at 604-717-4034.