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'Clearly an unprovoked stranger assault': Vancouver police searching for panhandler who allegedly attacked driver

Vancouver -

Police are asking for the public's help identifying a panhandler who allegedly threw a bottle at a driver's head in downtown Vancouver earlier this month.

Authorities said the victim was driving on West Georgia Street near the Vancouver Art Gallery on Aug. 6 when a man walked in front of his car, preventing him from leaving.

Sgt. Steve Addison said the suspect then began gesturing aggressively and screaming. When the driver managed to manoeuvre away, the suspect allegedly hurled a bottle at him.

"The bottle was thrown through the open window of the vehicle, struck the driver in the head and did leave a noticeable welt on the side of the man's head,” said Addison, who called the incident "clearly an unprovoked stranger assault."

Authorities said the victim was injured, but did not require hospitalization.

On Thursday, police released dash cam video of the altercation. The driver can be heard asking, "Could you move out of the way please, sir?" and telling him he doesn't have any change before the situation escalates. Authorities asked anyone who recognize the panhandler to contact them.

Police described the suspect as a slim, 5'8" tall white man with unkempt hair who was wearing a teal-coloured hoodie and loose jeans. In the video, he appears to be holding a bottle of Powerade.

The Vancouver Police Department said it's seeing a rise in stranger assaults, and reported a rise in sexual assaults throughout the city just over a week ago. Police attributed the increase to factors such as drug abuse, mental health issues, and anti-social behaviour.

Addison told CTV News there was another stranger assault reported Thursday night by a woman walking her dog in Yaletown.

“She saw a man on the sidewalk who appeared to be in distress. She did what she thought was the right thing, she stopped to check on the man, this man stood up, cornered her and spat on her twice,” he said. Top Stories

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