Two East Asian women were assaulted in separate incidents while walking in downtown Vancouver this week, sparking a plea from police for any witnesses to come forward.
The first incident happened on Nov. 4, when a woman was walking on Granville Street near Helmcken Street at 4:30 p.m. Police say an unknown man approached her and punched her in the nose. After falling to the ground, the woman was able to get to a place of safety and call police.
The suspect in this attack is described as white, 20 to 30 years-old, and six feet tall. He has a thin build and short hair. At the time of the assault, he was wearing a red t-shirt with yellow stripes, dark pants and sneakers.
A second similar incident, although believed to have involved a different suspect, happened Nov. 4 when a woman was walking to an Evo vehicle near West Georgia Street and Cidadel Parade. Police say an unknown man spat on the victim’s cheek as he was walking past her. The man continued to walk away and was not located by police.
Const. Tania Visintin said in a statement that hate crime investigators are assisting in both investigations.
“The investigations are still in the early stages, but we are not ruling out any motives, including if there was a bias, prejudice or hate element to the assaults,” she said.
Vancouver has seen a rise in hate crimes, particularly racist attacks, on people of colour this year.
“What concerns us most about these files is how completely random both assaults were. Evidence indicates the victim and suspect have no relation to each other in both cases,” Visintin said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
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