Suspect in racist SkyTrain attack arrested by transit police

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      Transit police have arrested a man who’s suspected of attacking a teenage Muslim girl while shouting racist insults on SkyTrain’s Canada Line.

      A December 6 media release describes the incident with details that some will find shocking.

      “At approximately 9:30 pm, December 4, 2017, a young woman boarded a Canada Line Train at Waterfront Station and sat down,” it begins. “A man seated nearby immediately stood up and allegedly began yelling at her as he walked towards her. He spoke in Arabic and allegedly hurled obscenities at her, using extremely offensive language. He allegedly told her to go back to her country and that he would kill all Muslims, as he grabbed her head, pulled it into his crotch and attempted to pull off her hijab.”

      At the attack continued, another passenger intervened.

      “As he allegedly slapped her face, another passenger stood up and placed himself between the woman and the suspect, pushing him away,” the release goes on. “The suspect left the train at Vancouver City Centre Station.”

      The suspect has been identified as Pierre Belzan, 46, who has no fixed address, according to the release.

      The Straight previously reported that the victim of the attack was a 17-year-old girl. Her brother, Abdul Fádel, previously wrote about the incident on Facebook and granted an interview to CTV News.

      In that interview with CTV, Fádel described the attack as a “hate crime”.

      "He really segregated and singled out a person of Muslim ethnicity," he said.

      The media release that transit police sent out today (December 6) details how authorities tracked the suspect and apprehended him a short time later. It states that the young woman took photographs of the man who attacked her and then, after police and paramedics met her at SkyTrain’s Yaletown station, she sent those images to the Canada Line Operation Management Centre (OMC).

      “OMC staff were able to track, by video, the suspect boarding another outbound train, and spotted him disembarking at Vancouver International Airport,” the release reads. “Transit police officers, on foot patrol in the area, moved into the airport, where they were met by the RCMP, and the suspect was quickly spotted in a convenience store. He was taken into custody, by transit police, without incident.”

      Belzan has been charged with one count of assault and one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm. In addition, police have recommended a charge of sexual assault. Approval by the Crown is pending.