Police Hunt Suspect Who Attacked Elderly Asian Man with Dementia and Yelled About Coronavirus

An elderly Asian man with dementia in Canada was attacked by a suspect who hurled racist remarks, including about coronavirus, police said.

Vancouver Police said on Tuesday that the assault on the 92-year-old man at a convenience store in East Vancouver last month is being investigated as a hate crime.

In an appeal for help identifying the suspect, police said the elderly man, who suffers from severe dementia, had wandered into a convenience store near Nanaimo Street and East 1st Avenue on the afternoon of March 13.

Staff at the store were trying to help the man when the suspect began yelling racist remarks at him, including comments about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

#VPDNews: Vancouver Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect who assaulted an elderly Asian man with dementia last month in East Vancouver. Police are investigating the assault as a hate crime. https://t.co/pP9aS3FlA2 pic.twitter.com/e5N13DeCLk

— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) April 22, 2020

Outside the store, the suspect shoved the elderly man, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head. The suspect left the store before police arrived.

"Everything about this assault and the behavior of the suspect is despicable," Vancouver Police Constable Tania Visintin said. "As a police department, we do not tolerate incidents motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate. It's even more disturbing considering the victim's age."

Vancouver suspect
Vancouver Police have issued an appeal for help identifying a suspect who they said assaulted an elderly Asian man with dementia. Vancouver Police Department

The department released surveillance footage and photos in a bid to track down the suspect in the incident. He is described as a white man in his 50s with dark, short hair that is balding on top. He is believed to be 6 feet tall with a heavy build.

On the day of the assault, he was wearing a gray, button up shirt over a black T-shirt with a white skull design on the front, black plants, and black running shoes. He was also wearing a thick, gold bracelet, a gold necklace, and several gold rings.

Vancouver Police added that they have seen an uptick in reports of "hate-motivated" incidents and crime targeting Asians recently. Eleven hate crimes were reported to police in March, the department said, and five of those reports had an anti-Asian element.

"We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue," Visintin added. "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."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call VPD investigators at 604-717-2763 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477. Canada has more than 41,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,081 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Almost 15,000 people have recovered.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the countries with the most COVID-19 cases in the world as of April 22.

This infographic shows countries with the most COVID-19 cases. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.