An 87-year-old man who lives in Vancouver’s Chinatown was attacked with bear spray Friday morning.
Vancouver Police are investigating the incident. Police said that the incident appears to be racially motivated.
“Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hate,” says Constable Tania Visintin, who released an image of the suspect taken from a CCTV camera in the area.
The assault occurred around 11:40 a.m. on Friday, (May 20). The victim was standing at the bus stop near Pender and Columbia streets when a stranger came up to him, made racist comments, then bear-sprayed him in the face. The attack was witnessed by at least one passerby who stopped to help.
The suspect fled after the assault and has not been identified. The victim sought help from a nearby business, which called 9-1-1. He was traumatized by the incident, but has non-life-threatening injuries.
Police described the suspect as between the ages of 30 and 40 years-old who is about six-feet tall. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, dark-coloured pants, a grey baseball cap, grey shoes with red trim and white soles and was carrying a black backpack.
The incident comes amid a dramatic rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver. Between 2019 and 2021 there was a 300 per cent increase in reported graffiti incidents and a 425 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crime incidents in Chinatown.
“People who live and work in Chinatown deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected,” Cst. Visintin said. “Violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti, and street disorder are appalling, and these incidents continue to erode peoples’ sense of safety.”
Anyone who has information or anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call investigators at 604-717-4034.