The 87-year-old victim, a neighbourhood resident, was standing at a bus stop near Pender and Columbia streets around 11:40 a.m. when a stranger came up to him and made racist comments. The attacker bear-sprayed him in the face and fled, police said in a Saturday news release.
At least one passerby stopped to help and a nearby business called 911. The victim was left “traumatized” with non-life-threatening injuries, said police.
“Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fuelled by anti-Asian hate,” said Const. Tania Visintin in the release.
“People who live and work in Chinatown deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected.”
#VPDNews: Vancouver Police are investigating after a senior was attacked with bear spray in Chinatown Friday morning – another troubling incident that appears to be racially motivated.
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) May 21, 2022
The Vancouver Police Department released two security camera images of the suspect on Saturday.
Police are also investigating whether the attack may be related to offensive graffiti that appeared outside the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden this week. They said the word “Shhh,” written on the red gates in white paint, was interpreted by many as backlash directed at Chinatown residents who have recently spoken up about crime and safety in the neighbourhood.
According to the VPD, graffiti reports and anti-Asian hate crime incidents in Chinatown increased by 300 per cent and 425 per cent, respectively, in 2020 and 2021.
“Violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti, and street disorder are appalling, and these incidents continue to erode peoples’ sense of safety,” said Visintin.
The VPD said Saturday it has increased patrols in Chinatown while investigators from its hate crimes team and major crimes section delve into Friday morning’s attack.
The suspect is described as male, six-feet tall, between 30 and 40 years old. He was wearing a black jacket, dark pants, a grey baseball cap, and grey shoes with red trim. He carried a black backpack.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact police at 604-717-4034.
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