A man allegedly behind three violent assaults in downtown Vancouver on Friday has now been charged with attempted murder, police say.

Vancouver police say 35-year-old Nicholas Osuteye of Alberta is facing three counts of attempted murder, and one count each of assault and mischief.

Police believe Osuteye attacked three women with his bare hands beginning at around 9:30 a.m. Friday. An 87-year-old Asian woman was critically injured in the 200-block of Columbia Street. She remains in hospital in serious condition.

The victim, who is believed to be in her 70s or 80s, was taken to hospital, but police feared she could die before they manage to reach her family.

She is described as 5-foot-tall, 105 pounds, with grey salt-and-pepper hair and a slim build. Authorities released a picture of the jewelry she was wearing, including a gold ring, a silver ring, a jade bracelet and a silver bracelet.

Anyone with information on her identity is asked to call 911 immediately.

Within half an hour after the first attack, two other women were assaulted in the 700-block of Pacific Boulevard. Police said a 63-year-old victim also suffered life-threatening injuries, while a 79-year-old is being treated for less-severe wounds.

Police said on Friday the motive was unclear, and no further details are being released now that the incident is before the courts.

Osuteye was arrested not far from Pacific Boulevard wearing nothing but a pair of briefs. Investigators are looking into whether the man was recently hospitalized for mental health issues.

Authorities also heard reports the suspect may have assaulted other people as he allegedly made his way from the Downtown Eastside to the crime scene. One man may have been attacked in his car.

Osuteye remains in custody, and a court appearance has yet to be scheduled.