Vancouver police are investigating the assault of a 92-year-old Asian man with dementia last month as a hate crime.
Police are looking for the suspect who is believed to have assaulted the man on March 13 near Nanaimo Street and East 1st Avenue.
“Everything about this assault and the behaviour of the suspect is despicable,” Const. Tania Visintin says in a release.
“As a police department, we do not tolerate incidents motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate. It’s even more disturbing considering the victim’s age.”
Police say the 92-year-old victim, who suffers from severe dementia, wandered into a convenience store and the suspect began yelling racist remarks at him, including comments about COVID-19.
Police say once outside the store, the suspect shoved the man, which caused him to fall and hit his head. The suspect then fled before police arrived.
Vancouver police have noticed an increase in reports of anti-Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal behaviour in recent weeks. Police say 11 hate crimes were reported to them in March, five of which had an anti-Asian element.
There have been nine anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police so far this year compared to 12 in all of 2019.
“We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” Visintin says.
“We are making a plea to victims or people who witness hate crimes to please come forward and report the incidents to police so they can be investigated.”
The suspect is described as a Caucasian man in his 50s, around six feet tall with a heavy build. He has short dark hair and is balding on the top. He was wearing a grey button-up shirt over a black T-shirt with a white skull design on the front, black pants, and black running shoes. He was also wearing a thick gold bracelet, gold necklace, and several gold rings.
Anyone with information is asked to call VPD investigators at 604-717-2763 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
Surveillance photos of the suspect provided by Vancouver police: