Assault in downtown Vancouver caught on camera; police release surveillance video
VANCOUVER -- Three weeks after police say a young woman was assaulted in downtown Vancouver, officers are now hoping the public will help identify a suspect in an attack they called "disgusting."
According to the Vancouver Police Department, a 22-year-old Asian woman was approached at a bus stop near Granville and West Pender streets on the evening of April 12.
Surveillance video, released Tuesday, shows a man walking up to her, punching her in the face, then walking away.
"The assault appears to be unprovoked," said the VPD's Sgt. Aaron Roed. "And there is no communication between the victim and the attacker."
The woman falls to the ground. Police say she wasn’t seriously injured.
Roed referred to the attack as a "stranger assault" and said while the motive is not yet known, major crimes and the VPD’s diversity and hate crimes sections are involved, and nothing is being ruled out.
"This is why we want to identify the attacker, so we can rule anything out, and find out if this is a hate crime," Roed said.
Police describe the suspect in the video as a white man in his mid-20s with a medium build. At the time of the attack, he was wearing dark T-shirt with a distinctive deer emblem on the front, a grey long-sleeved shirt underneath and a beanie-style hat with grey and yellow stripes.
Roed said the suspect boarded the Number 4 bus to UBC with an “associate” who police say is not under investigation because they do not believe he or she was involved in the assault.
“We’re not going to tolerate this, and if this is a hate crime we will be investigating it as that,” Roed said.
Statistics provided by the VPD show anti-Asian hate crime on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
In April of 2020, 11 out of 15 hate crime reports had an anti-Asian element. In March 2020, that number was five out of 11.
And this year to date, there have been reports of 20 anti-Asian hate crimes in the City of Vancouver. For the same period in 2019, the number was 12.
"If we allow this to happen and go on further, it’s going to happen for any other ethnic groups as well," said Queenie Choo, the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a non-profit social services organization that prides itself on inclusivity and multiculturalism.
"We’ve got to get it stopped," Choo said.
Choo added that awareness is key, along with immediate condemnation of behaviours she called "disgusting" and "despicable."
Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre has been repeatedly vandalized. And in March, a 92-year-old Asian man suffering from dementia was attacked at an East Vancouver convenience store. Police say they believe race was the motive. While no arrests have been made, police say they’ve identified a suspect and are still working on charges.
Anyone with information about the April 12 attack is asked to contact VPD's major crime section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Kendra Mangione and Jon Woodward