Vancouver Police are deeming a recent alleged assault on an elderly Vancouver man as a "hate crime."
The incident under investigation took place on the afternoon of March 13.
A 92-year-old Asian man who suffers from severe dementia had wandered into an East Vancouver convenience store when he was confronted by a suspect "yelling racist remarks at the victim that included comments about COVID-19."
Staff at the store, located near Nanaimo Street and East 1st Avenue, had been trying to help the man when the suspect - a white male in his 50s - launched his tirade.
Surveillance video from the store shared by the VPD show the suspect grabbing the victim and tossing him outside the door of the store, where the elderly man immediately fell to the ground and hit his head. Two customers arrived at the store at the same time, and step over the elderly victim and past the suspect as they enter the building.
The suspect then returns to the victim's side to sit him upright on the sidewalk, before returing inside to complete his transaction.
However, the suspect had left the scene by the time the authorities arrived.
“Everything about this assault and the behaviour of the suspect is despicable,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD. “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.”
“We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” adds Visintin. “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.”
Vancouver Police note that in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, they have seen an uptick in reports of "hate motivated" incidents and behaviour targeting members of the Asian community.
Eleven hate crimes were reported to police in March. Five of those reports (45 per cent) had an anti-Asian element. So far in 2020, there have been a total of nine anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police. In comparison, there were 12 in all of 2019.
In the March 13 assault, police say their suspect is thought to be six feet tall with a heavy build. He has dark, short hair and is balding on the top. He was wearing a grey, button up shirt over a black t-shirt with a white skull design on the front, black pants and black running shoes. He was also wearing a thick, gold bracelet, a gold necklace and several gold rings.
Anyone with information is asked to call VPD investigators at 604-717-2763 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.