An 87-year-old man living in Vancouver’s Chinatown was attacked Friday morning with bear spray.
Vancouver Police Department is investigating the incident. The incident appears to have been racially motivated, police said.
“Everything indicates that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hatred,” said Officer Tania Visintin, who released a photo of the suspect taken with a CCTV camera in the area.
The attack took place around 11:40 a.m. on Friday (May 20). The victim was standing at the bus stop near the streets of Pender and Columbia when a stranger approached him, made racist remarks, and then shot him in the face with a bear. The attack was witnessed by at least one passerby who stopped to help.
The suspect fled after the assault and has not been identified. The victim sought help from a nearby company, which called 9-1-1. He was traumatized by the incident, but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Police described the suspect as between 30 and 40 years old and about six feet tall. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, dark pants, a gray baseball cap, gray shoes with red trims and white soles and was carrying a black backpack.
The incident comes amid a dramatic rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 300 percent increase in reported graffiti incidents and a 425 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in Chinatown.
“People who live and work in Chinatown deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected,” says Cst. said Visintin. “Violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti and street disorder are appalling, and these incidents continue to affect people’s sense of security.”
Anyone with information or anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call investigators at 604-717-4034.