Vancouver Police say they have identified the man who they believe assaulted an elderly Asian man with dementia last month in East Vancouver in an attack that appears to have been racially motivated.
After receiving numerous tips from the community, police announced Thursday that they had identified the suspect. Police do not release a suspect’s identity to the public unless, or until, charges are laid.
“Police would like to thank the community and partners for their overwhelming support on such a serious, intolerable incident,” a statement reads.
According to police, the incident happened on March 13 when the victim, who is 92 years old, wandered into a convenience store near Nanaimo Street and East 1st Avenue. Police did not detail the elderly man’s nationality.
As staff at the convenience store were trying to assist him, the suspect began yelling racist remarks at the victim that included comments about COVID-19, according to police. Outside the store, the suspect shoved the elderly man, which caused him to fall to the ground and hit his head.
The suspect left the store before police arrived. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
The entire incident was caught on surveillance footage.
“Everything about this assault and the behaviour of the suspect is despicable,” said Const. Tania Visintin. “As a police department, we do not tolerate incidents motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate. It’s even more disturbing considering the victim’s age.”
Visintin told Black Press Media in an email that the elderly man has been recovering at home with family.
Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 604-717-2763 or to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers. Police said the will be using the information to supplement their case, and reach out to specific people if they require more information.
Police said the department has seen an increase in reports of anti-Asian, hate-motivated incidents and criminal behaviour.
In March, 11 hate crimes were reported in Vancouver with five having an anti-Asian element. Four other similar kinds of crimes were reported to police prior to March.
“We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally under reported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” Visintin said. “We are making a plea to victims or people who witness hate crimes to please come forward and report the incidents to police so they can be investigated.”