White man attacks 92-year-old East Asian man in racist incident (update)

THURSDAY UPDATE: Vancouver Police investigators have received numerous tips from the community on the racially motivated assault at the convenience store in East Vancouver.  VPD investigators have made significant leads and have identified a suspect.

CTV Vancouver reported that the suspect is Jamie Bezanson, and that court records and public documents indicate he lives in East Vancouver and is a longshoreman.

It added: “The man identifying himself as the suspect’s son told CTV News his father had turned himself in to police, and was told there would be no charges.”

However, the VPD told CTV: “We have NOT told anyone they will not be charged.”

In recent weeks, Vancouver Police have seen an increase in reports of anti-East Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal behaviour

VANCOUVER Police are asking for the public’s help  in identifying the suspect who assaulted an elderly Asian man with dementia (see video) last month in East Vancouver. Police are investigating the assault as a hate crime.

“Everything about this assault and the behaviour of the suspect is despicable,” said Constable Tania Visintin on Wednesday. “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.”

In the afternoon of March 13, the 92-year-old victim, who suffers from severe dementia, wandered into a convenience store near Nanaimo Street and East 1st Avenue. Staff at the convenience store were trying to assist the elderly male, when the suspect began yelling racist remarks at the victim that included comments about COVID-19.  Outside the store, the suspect shoved the elderly man, which caused him to fall to the ground and hit his head. The suspect left the store before police arrived.

In recent weeks, Vancouver Police have seen an increase in reports of anti-East Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal behaviour. Eleven hate crimes were reported to police in March. Five of those reports (45 per cent) had an anti-East Asian element. So far in 2020, there have been a total of nine anti-East Asian hate crimes reported to police. In comparison, there were 12 in all of 2019.

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

The suspect is described as a white man in his 50s. He is believed to be six feet tall with a heavy build. He has dark, short hair and is balding on the top.  He was wearing a grey, 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.

Anyone with information is asked to call VPD investigators at 604-717-2963 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.