Police in Vancouver say they’ve identified a suspect in an attack on an elderly man with dementia.
The assault was captured by a surveillance camera inside an East Vancouver convenience store last month.
Investigators described the incident as being racially motivated, and said it began when the victim, who has what they called “severe” dementia, wandered into the store.
Staff at the shop near 1st Avenue and Nanaimo Street were trying to assist the 92-year-old man when another customer started shouting anti-Asian remarks at him, police were told.
Some of the comments were related to COVID-19.
Police said the altercation continued outside the store, where it is alleged the elderly man was shoved. He fell to the ground and hit his head, police said.
By the time officers got to the store, the other man involved was gone.
While the incident happened on March 13, police did not release surveillance photos and video of the assault until Wednesday.
On Thursday, officers said they’d already identified a suspect in what they’re investigating as a hate crime.
Sgt. Aaron Roed said in an emailed statement to media that officers received “numerous tips” after asking for the public’s help to identify the man in the video.
They have identified a suspect, Roed said, but so far, police have not made his name public.
The investigation into what police are calling a hate crime is ongoing, and anyone with more information is asked to call police at 604-717-2763.
“Investigators will be supplementing the file with tips and information from the public. They will reach out to specific people if they require more information,” Roed said.
Tips can also be left anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
On Wednesday, the Vancouver Police Department said reports of hate crimes – particularly against people of Asian descent – have been up in the city since the onset of COVID-19.
There were a total of 12 anti-Asian hate crimes reported all of last year. There have already been nine reported in the first few months of 2020.
“We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” Const. Tania Visintin said.
“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.”