VANCOUVER – A man has been charged with assault after police say a woman was the subject of a religion-based threat on a train in Vancouver on Monday night.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police say the woman boarded a Canada Line Train at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.
After she sat down, police say a man seated nearby spoke in Arabic as he approached her, allegedly yelling obscenities.
“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,” police said in a news release issued Wednesday. “As he allegedly slapped her face, another passenger stood up and placed himself between the woman and the suspect, pushing him away.”
Police say they arrested the suspect at the airport after tracking him on transit system video.
The woman called police for help after getting off the train at another downtown station.
“When transit police officers met her there a short time later, the woman was extremely traumatized and had trouble breathing,” police said, adding that paramedics were called to help her.
“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.”
Pierre Belzan, 46, of no fixed address, has been charged with one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm and one count of assault.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated the threat was based on race.