A 46-year-old man has been arrested and charged with one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm and one charge of assault in connection to “an alleged unprovoked hate motivated attack on a woman on a Canada Line” on Monday night.
According to Transit Police, a charge of sexual assault has also been recommended.
The Richmond woman who reported her alleged assault was shocked that no one helped her after a verbal altercation became physical on the Canada Line.
In a post to social media, Noor Fadel said she was taking the train home from work just before 10 p.m. on Monday when she said another passenger started insulting her.
“The moment I sat on the train, this man got up and started to swear at me calling me a whore and a slut telling me he will kill me and all Muslims in a mix of Arabic and some other language I wasn’t understanding,” she wrote.
Fadel was all the more stunned when she said the man raised his hand and told her he was going to kill her.
“He was using horrific words as he was aggressively making actions when he tried to grab my head and shove it to his crotch,” she said.
“I watched as others watched the man verbally assault me when out of nowhere he strikes me across the face.”
Despite the crowd on the Canada Line, Fadel said no one helped her – until one passenger finally got up, pushed the attacker away and stayed between them until the man left at Vancouver City Centre. She said the intervenor stayed with her until police and paramedics arrived.
“When Transit Police officers met her there a short time later, the woman was extremely traumatized and had trouble breathing,” Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan wrote in a statement.
Fadel sent photos of her alleged attacker to Transit Police and officers were able to track down Pierre Belzan, of no fixed address, Vancouver International Airport convenience store and are recommending one charge of sexual assault.
Belzan was taken into custody without incident and will be making his first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon.
For her part, Fadel remains grateful for the bystander who came to her aid.
“Thank you to Jake Taylor for being the one person, once a stranger now a dear friend who stood up for me no matter for my appearance,” she said.
“It saddens my heart that so many people watched as I was being attacked and assaulted simply because of a man who knew nothing of me but chose to judge me based on the hijab I wear. If ever you witness someone being harmed or looks in distress do not hesitate to get up and help.”