Vancouver police say they have identified a suspect in a racially motivated assault on a 92-year-old Asian man with dementia, who was thrown to the ground outside a convenience store by an attacker who shouted slurs about Covid-19.
The suspect was identified less than 24 hours after police asked the public for help on Wednesday. They released a video of the incident, which took place on March 13 at a 7-Eleven store on the city’s Eastside, long associated with this western Canadian city’s working-class Chinese community.
Police credited an “overwhelming” public response with identifying the suspected attacker.
“VPD investigators have made significant leads and have identified a suspect,” the department said on Thursday morning.
“Police would like to thank the community and partners for their overwhelming support on such a serious, intolerable incident.”
The name of the suspect was not released and police did not say whether he had been arrested.
The incident was described by police on Wednesday as coming amid a spike in hate crimes in Vancouver. Eleven hate crimes were reported in March, they said, five of which had “an anti-Asian element”.
In the March 13 incident, the victim had wandered into the store, whose staff were trying to help him, “when the [attacker] began yelling racist remarks at the victim that included comments about Covid-19”, said Constable Tania Visintin.
The silent video footage shows a large man forcefully shoving the victim through the store’s doors, sending him sprawling to the ground. Police were called, but the attacker had left by the time they arrived.
The victim, who was unhurt despite falling and hitting his head on the pavement, had been reported missing by his family less than an hour before the attack. Visintin said the victim suffered “severe dementia”.
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