CTV on Thursday reported that Belzan, who emigrated from Algeria and now has a Canadian passport, was also arrested in May for allegedly swinging a heavy mesh bag into the legs of a 10-year-old Filipino girl on Canada Line in Vancouver. The girl’s mother reportedly screamed at Belzan and called police. He was charged with assault.)
PIERRE Belzan, 46, of no fixed address was arrested by Metro Vancouver Transit Police on Monday night after an alleged unprovoked hate-motivated attack on a woman on the Canada Line.
Police said that at approximately 9:30 p.m. on December 4, a young woman boarded a Canada Line Train at Waterfront Station and sat down. A man seated nearby immediately stood up and allegedly began yelling at her as he walked towards her. He spoke in Arabic and allegedly hurled obscenities at her, using extremely offensive language.
He allegedly told her to go back to her country and that he would kill all Muslims, as he grabbed her head, pulled it into his crotch and attempted to pull off her hijab. As he allegedly slapped her face, another passenger stood up and placed himself between the woman and the suspect, pushing him away. The suspect left the train at Vancouver City Centre Station.
The woman called the police and got off the train at Yaletown Station, accompanied by her protector. When Transit Police officers met her there a short time later, the woman was extremely traumatized and had trouble breathing. Paramedics were called to render assistance.
The woman advised that she had been able to take several pictures of her attacker which were forwarded to the Canada Line Operation Management Centre (OMC). OMC staff were able to track, by video, the suspect boarding another outbound train, and spotted him disembarking at Vancouver International Airport.
Transit Police officers, on foot patrol in the area, moved into the airport, where they were met by the RCMP, and the suspect was quickly spotted in a convenience store. He was taken into custody by Transit Police without incident.
Belzan has been charged with one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm and one count of assault.
Transit Police have also recommended a charge of sexual assault, which is pending.
Belzan has no criminal record but is well known to police. Transit Police investigators have been liaising with the BC Hate Crimes Unit during the investigation.
Transit Police has discussed a safety plan with the young woman for her future travel on transit and victim assistance services have been offered.
Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan said: “We would like to thank and commend the gentleman who intervened in this incident and came to the aid of the woman. He put his own safety at risk and stopped what might have become an even more serious situation.
“We also commend the employees of the Canada Line OMC for their excellent work in tracking the suspect and keeping Transit Police apprised each step of the way. Thank you to the Vancouver Airport RCMP for their assistance.”
TRANSIT Police did an amazing job on Monday in tracking down the alleged attacker and arresting and charging him.
The victim, Noor Fadel, 17, wrote the following in a Facebook post on Tuesday (unedited):
YESTERDAY night after work I missed my last bus back home so I had to take a train to waterfront and from waterfront to Richmond brighouse.
On the Canada line at around 9:57 pm I got on a sat a few seats away from a man on the train with a lot of people on.
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
He was not Muslim.
He raised his hand and began saying he was going to kill me . I wanted to film him but I was afraid he was going to hit me
He was using horrific words as he was aggressively making actions when he tried to grab my head and shove it to his crotch and
I watched as others watched the man verbally assault me when out of nowhere he strikes me across the face
He hit me
And everyone watched as he did so. Everyone stayed seated and did not utter a word but one man. One guy just like me on his way home from work got up and pushed the guy away and stayed in front of me until the man got off at Vancouver city centre.
The guy with me then got off at Yale town and stayed with me the entire time when police and paramedics arrived. Out of a whole train filled with people. One person got up and did something and said something .
The police are still searching for this man
Due to this kind stranger who protected me I was able to sneak a picture or two of the man who attacked me before he got off the train
Please stay safe, and please
If ever you witness someone being harmed or looks in distress do NOT HESITATE to get up and help.
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.
Stay safe and please help one another
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.
FADEL’S brother, Abdul Fadel, told the media (he was interviewed by several TV reporters) that this was a traumatic experience for his sister and both he and his sister were surprised that no one except for one individual came to her rescue. His sister suffered only minor injuries, but was all shaken up. She is afraid to leave her house or go to school or for work.