Vancouver Police Department hate crime investigators believe threats made two weeks ago against two men at a Davie St convenience store may have been motivated by hate.
Police say the men were coming out of a convenience store at Davie and Bidwell when a man threatened them then walked away.
Staff Sgt Don Cayer says the weapon resembled a Swiss Army knife.
“This guy made a comment about ‘I hate fags’ or something like that,” Cayer says.
No one was injured in the incident.
The hate-crime officers were called in to determine what motive there might be for the incident.
Det Tim Houchen couldn’t say if the threatened men were gay.
“They walked into the store together and [the suspect] went off,” Houchen says.
“We want witnesses who saw it to come forward,” he adds.
The suspect’s alleged comments led police to believe the incident was motivated by hate, Houchen notes.
The suspect is described as white, 30 to 40 years old, 5’8″ tall, with a medium to stocky build and short brown hair and blue eyes.
He was wearing a blue Canucks jersey with the original logo on front of the hockey stick, a Canucks ball cap and grey cargo pants.
Houchen thinks the incident is reminiscent of an unprovoked series of attacks on Pride weekend last summer.
On Aug 2, Khalid Alzghoul, a 31-year-old man, allegedly attacked several people with a hammer in the Davie Village, beginning at the Majestic at the height of last year’s Pride celebrations. He was charged with 17 offences including assault causing bodily harm.
Vancouver police later told Xtra West the hammer attacks were not motivated by homophobia and that Alzghoul has a history of mental illness.
Houchen says investigating hate crimes will continue to be a priority for the department, and stresses the need for community members to keep reporting incidents.
“Our hate crime numbers are through the roof,” he says. “We’re getting far more reporting. We want to keep that continuing. We think the community needs a level of security.
“These things can’t keep going unreported. It’s an important issue.”
The issue was thrust back into the spotlight last September after Jordan Smith was allegedly attacked for holding hands with a man in the Davie Village.
Smith, 27, was walking along Davie St hand-in-hand with another man when a group of young men allegedly approached them, screamed obscenities about their sexual orientation, then knocked Smith unconscious with a blow to the jaw at the corner of Davie and Hornby Sts.
Smith’s jaw was broken in three places.
Michael Kandola, 20, is charged with aggravated assault in connection with the incident. He was originally charged with simple assault but the Crown upgraded the charge Oct 14.
Police say they want the incident prosecuted as a hate crime because of the obscenities allegedly uttered before the attack.
Kandola will have a preliminary hearing in Vancouver Provincial Court Jun 10-11.