OPP urge witnesses of hate-motivated assault on Hwy. 401 off ramp to come forward

An Ontario Provincial Police crest is displayed on the arm of an officer during a press conference in Vaughan, Ont., on Thursday, June 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

Ontario Provincial Police are asking those who may have filmed a “hate-motivated assault” on a Highway 401 off ramp in Pickering last month to contact investigators.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt tells CTV News Toronto that the victim was travelling on the highway on Aug 13 when another vehicle began to tailgate him before pulling ahead of his vehicle and slamming on his breaks in an attempt to “evoke some kind of reaction.”

Schmidt said that both vehicles exited the highway at Whites Road, at which point the suspect got out and ripped several flags off the victim’s vehicle “that were significant to his culture.”

He said that he then assaulted the victim in front of his wife and children.

“The assailant began punching the victim with his hand. No other weapons were observed. But it did knock out the victim slightly while the entire family was watching this unfold from their vehicle,” he said. “They called police at which point the assailant fled in his vehicle.”

Schmidt said that the victim did tell police that several people filmed the altercation on their cellphones, however it is not clear whether investigators have been able to view that footage.

Police have not released a description of the suspect in the assault, other than that he was driving a black Dodge Caravan.

They say that the assault is believed to have taken place between 5:20 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Aug. 13.

“According to the victim there were other witnesses in that area who were recording the events on their cellphones and there may be dash cam as well. If you happened to be in the area and had dash cam or information that can assists us in this investigation please call the Whitby OPP,” Schmidt said in a video appeal posted to Twitter earlier on Wednesday. “We certainly want to hear from you and see any information that you may have that will assists us in this hate-motivated assault.”