Man's turban torn off in weekend attack, police say

Ottawa police are investigating a potentially hate-motivated crime after a man was assaulted and his turban was stolen near Westgate Mall Friday night.

Victim attacked, robbed near Westgate Shopping Centre around 11:25 p.m. Friday

Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch said the two attackers used ethnic slurs during the assault. (Stu Mills/CBC )

Ottawa police are investigating a potentially hate-motivated crime after a man was assaulted and his turban stolen near Westgate Shopping Centre Friday night. 

Two suspects, described as white males by police, approached the victim at 11:25 p.m. while he waited for a bus. They asked the man about his ethnicity and spoke about cutting his beard and hair, police said Tuesday.

"He was asked specifically about his ethnicity and then there were some racial slurs that came along with that," said  Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch of the Ottawa police. 

"They also asked him whether he'd ever cut his hair or his beard, so, that's pretty specific, so at a minimum we're suggesting at this point that there were some racial overtones to this."

The two suspects left, then returned and asked the man for change. Police said they started making racial slurs, and one suspect produced a knife. 

The victim ran to a nearby business, which was locked. Police said the suspects then assaulted the man, dragged him on the ground and threatened him.

They also removed and stole the victim's turban, as well as his phone and bus pass, police said. 

Haarbosch said this may be an isolated incident, but they're looking for more information. 

"We have some information they may have been drinking, so this could certainly be a one-off event committed by a couple of guys that were acting stupidly and disgustingly, but that's part of the investigation that's going on."

Paramedics treated victim

The victim was treated by paramedics for minor injuries. 

The first suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, five feet 10 inches tall and clean-shaven with short blondish-brown hair. He was last seen wearing an orange shirt, blue jeans and runners. 

The second suspect is described by police as a white male in his 20s, five feet six inches tall, clean shaven and wearing blue track pants or pyjamas. 

Police are investigating the incident and whether it was a hate-motivated crime. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ottawa police's robbery unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5116. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).