News / Vancouver

Two elderly women kicked, punched in random Vancouver attacks

Vancouver police believe a man with mental health problems is likely behind two disturbing attacks on elderly women in the city's west side on Thursday.

An ambulance is seen in this file photo. Police are investigating after two elderly women were assaulted in separate, disturbing attacks in Vancouver's west side on Thursday.

Thandi Fletcher/Metro file

An ambulance is seen in this file photo. Police are investigating after two elderly women were assaulted in separate, disturbing attacks in Vancouver's west side on Thursday.

Vancouver police believe a man with mental health problems is likely behind two disturbing and random attacks against elderly women in the city’s west side on Thursday.

Const. Brian Montague said the “bizarre nature of the attacks” has led investigators to believe that mental health or drug addiction likely played a role.

“Why would someone kick an 84-year-old woman sitting on a walker for no apparent reason and then just hours later, possibly the same person, punch a 70-year-old woman who is sitting in a wheelchair?” Montague told reporters Friday. “There doesn’t appear to be a real motive here … other than just someone lashing out.”

The first assault happened shortly after noon when a man approached the first victim on West Broadway near Ash Street, said Montague.

While the woman waited for her ride, he said the man kicked her off her seat and walked away.

The victim suffered a broken elbow and was taken to hospital. She was released Friday and is now at home recovering from her injuries, he said.

The second assault happened about two hours later near Broadway and Granville Street.

Montague said a 70-year-old woman in a wheelchair out for a walk with her daughter was approached by a man who punched her once in the face and walked off.

She suffered minor injuries and did not require medical attention, he said.

While their physical injuries will heal in time, Montague said both women are emotionally traumatized.

He said the man in the first attack is described as white, in his 20s, five-foot-10 with a medium build and full beard. He was wearing a dark navy top, navy baseball hat and white shoes.

Montague said the victim and witnesses in the second incident were unable to provide a description to police.

However, based on the type of assault, location and time, he said investigators believe the same person is likely behind both attacks.

Montague said there doesn’t appear to be an obvious motive behind the attacks, which leads investigators to believe that mental health issues could be a factor.

“In at least one of the situations, the individual had an opportunity to take a purse and did not, so robbery doesn’t appear to be a motive here,” he said.

Investigators have obtained video surveillance showing a suspect, but will be canvassing the area for better quality images in an attempt to identify him, said Montague.

“There is a good possibility if we get some video that we can identify him quite quickly,” he said. “Likely, this is someone we’ve dealt with before.”

Anyone who sees the man or has information on his identity is asked to contact Vancouver police.

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