Burnaby Mounties won’t explain 2-month delay in disclosing assault of senior

Burnaby RCMP are asking for the public’s help two months after an Asian senior was intentionally tripped and sent to the ground, admitting they’ve only done so now that they’ve hit a dead end.

The surveillance footage is so poor and the suspect is wearing a non-medical mask, with investigators unsure if she’s Asian herself, and Mounties acknowledge it’s nearly impossible for anyone who doesn’t recognize her gait or other characteristics to identify her.

It happened in a plaza of Central Boulevard near Metrotown SkyTrain Station on April 3, but Mounties didn’t disclose the incident, nor ask for assistance finding the suspect until May 28.

"While I understand there may be some questions around the timeliness of the sharing of this evidence, what I want the public to know is that this video is being shared at this time because we need your help," Chief Supt. Deanne Burleigh, officer-in-charge at Burnaby detachment, wrote in an email to CTV News. "Our officers are diligently investigating any complaints of this nature made to the Burnaby RCMP and I am asking for continued vigilance from our community in reporting any crimes targeting members of the Asian community in our city."

The slow response raised questions for one of the region’s top criminologists.

"I am surprised, given the current climate of concern of this kind of attack that’s been going on since at least the beginning of March and intensified as people became more and more concerned about the pandemic," said SFU professor Rob Gordon, who notes that numerous police agencies have reported a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes, vandalism and assault in connection with the pandemic.

On Thursday, an RCMP spokesperson said that the 84 year-old woman cried for help and a security guard was able to help her. She was rattled but not badly hurt in what Mounties believe was an unprovoked assault.

"All the information we really have is from the video we put out… it seems as though the suspect was just walking by and for some unknown reason approached the victim," said Cpl. Mike Kalanj.

In fact, the suspect is across the plaza, appears to see the elderly woman with a walker and changes her course of direction to trip her, sending her to the ground, before going back in the direction she’s appeared to be heading for.

She’s seen wearing black leggings, a long jacket, a white purse and shoes, and appears to have long black hair.

The incident is just one more case of violence against Asian-Canadians that’s been closely followed by S.U.C.C.E.S.S., which helps new immigrants adjust to life in Canada.

"It’s got to be investigated and looked at so that it doesn’t happen again, over and over again," said CEO Queenie Choo. "These kinds of crimes that happen are so sad and it’s very disturbing and concerning. One of the ultimate goals is to get to the bottom of it and making sure the offenders are really being investigated and get whatever needs to be done, especially the consequences to those actions that are so appalling — especially to people who are so vulnerable like seniors."

While there have been delays in disclosing similar incidents during the pandemic, most notably an attack on an Asian woman at a downtown Vancouver bus stop and the assault of an elderly Asian man at an East Vancouver convenience store, Gordon believes that police agencies in Metro Vancouver have generally been quick to respond to xenophobic crimes in their communities.

"I think they’re taking it all very seriously, the VPD in particular seems to be very much on the ball for this," he said. "I can’t speak for the RCMP — presumably they are actively pursuing this particular incident — they just seem to be less than enthusiastic about reporting back on their findings and I think there may be investigative reasons for doing that and if there are, fair enough, but to wait two months is odd to me."