Vancouver police are looking for a suspect in connection with what appears to be a racially motivated assault in Chinatown.
According to police, an 87-year-old senior was attacked with bear spray in his face.
“Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hate,” Const. Tania Visintin said in a VPD news release.
She released images of the suspect taken from a closed-circuit TV camera in the neighbourhood.
He's described as being between 30 and 40 years old and 6' tall. He was wearing a black jacket, dark-coloured pants, a grey baseball cap, and grey shoes with red trim and white soles, and carrying a black backpack.
The senior was out for his morning walk around 11:40 a.m. on Friday (May 20) when he was targeted.
The assailant approached him at a bus stop near Pender and Columbia streets. The stranger made racist comments before using the bear spray.
“Given the time of day and the location of this incident, we believe there were witnesses who have not yet come forward," Visintin added. "We also believe there will be people who recognize the suspect and can help us identify him.”
One witness helped the senior. Police say the victim was traumatized and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The VPD stated in the news release that there was a 425 percent increase in anti-Asian hate-crime incidents in Chinatown between 2019 and 2021.
There was also a 300 percent increase in reported graffiti incidents over the same period.
Police are looking into whether the attack on the senior is linked to "offensive graffiti" saying the word "Shhh" that recently appeared on the gates outside the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Some believe that this is directed at Chinatown residents who've been speaking out against graffiti, according to the VPD.
“People who live and work in Chinatown deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected,” Visintin said. “Violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti, and street disorder are appalling, and these incidents continue to erode peoples’ sense of safety.”
Anyone with information about the assault on the senior is being urged to call VPD investigators at 604-717-4034.