87-year-old bear sprayed in Vancouver
By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent
Vancouver media reported late last month that a frail and elderly man was bear-sprayed in the face in the city’s Chinatown district, with the attack recorded on CCTV.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) described the suspect as a six-foot-tall man between 30 and 40.
The CCTV image showed that the 87-year-old victim was not only more than twice the attacker’s age, he was also almost a foot shorter.
The assault took place on a Friday, close to noon, at the bus stop near Pender and Columbia streets. The VPD told local media that the suspect came up to the victim, “made racist comments, then bear-sprayed him in the face.”
VPD Constable Tania Visintin said the assault was seen by at least one individual, who came to the victim’s aid. The police officer also said it was likely that there were more witnesses, considering the time and place where the attack occurred.
Said Visintin: “Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hate.”
She added that the VPD believes “there were witnesses who have not yet come forward. We also believe there will be people who recognize the suspect and can help us identify him.”
The identity of the victim was not released to media, but it was learned that while he did not suffer life-threatening injuries, he was left traumatized by the attack.
The attacker was last seen wearing a black jacket, dark pants, grey shoes with red trim, and a grey baseball cap. He was also carrying a black backpack.
The Major Crimes Section and Hate Crimes Team of the VPD is investigating the attack. They are probing whether the attack is connected to the graffiti that appeared on the gates outside the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden recently.
The garden had previously been vandalized in January. The vandalized spots were near where the elderly Chinatown resident was assaulted with bear-spray, which is used to deter an aggressive bear from attacking. It is similar to, but is much stronger than, pepper spray.
While Vancouver and the rest of Canada is generally considered a safe place, the city’s Chinatown district experienced a 300 percent increase in reported graffiti incidents between 2019 and 2021. There was also a 425 percent increase in anti-Asian hate incidents for the same period.
Office Visintin said the violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti, and street disorder “are appalling, and these incidents continue to erode people’s sense of safety.”
Investigation of the cowardly and unprovoked attack against a helpless senior citizen is ongoing.