Ottawa

OPP investigating 'racially motivated' assault on 80-year-old Pembroke woman

Ontario Provincial Police in Pembroke, Ont., are investigating reports that teenagers yelled racial slurs at an elderly woman, vandalized her home and threw a rock at her head, sending her to hospital.

Cindy Tran says youths swore, hurled a rock at her grandmother Aug. 20

Cindy Tran says her grandmother, who is 80 years old, was assaulted by a group of teens who gathered around her home, yelled racial slurs and threw a rock at her head. 0:57

Ontario Provincial Police in Pembroke, Ont., are investigating reports that teenagers yelled racial slurs at an elderly woman, vandalized her home and threw a rock at her head, sending her to hospital.

Cindy Tran, the granddaughter of the 80-year-old victim, Nga Doan, said teenagers banged on her grandmother's door after 9 p.m. on Aug. 20. Doan, who has hearing problems, believed her dog wanted to go outside, said Tran.

But when her grandmother opened her front door, five young people were there — four on bicycles and one standing.

"She can't speak English, but she can make out curse words," said Tran, who lives in Ottawa. "They were swearing at her … and then they were also egging the house."

This is not something that should ever even occur, regardless of how old a person is.- Cindy Tran

OPP allege the young people yelled "racial comments" at Doan. One of the young people then threw a rock, striking Doan's left cheek and leaving a bruise, said Tran.

Doan stumbled back inside and frantically phoned family members. She was later taken to hospital with minor injuries.

"I was just shocked, but then I started sobbing because you don't expect this to happen to an 80-year-old woman," Tran said. "This is not something that should ever even occur, regardless of how old a person is."

'That's the part that sort of strikes me the most — that not even my grandmother can be safe in her home. And that is the scariest thought to have,' said Cindy Tran about the attack on her 80-year-old grandmother Nga Doan, seen here with Tran's younger sister, Crystal Tran. (Supplied by Cindy Tran)

Mayor 'disheartened, saddened'

Tran said police told the family someone egged Doan's house again two days after the first attack. On a third occasion, Tran said one of the young people was seen yelling and banging on the door.

Pembroke Mayor Mike LeMay said he was "incredibly disheartened, saddened and angered" by the news, calling the assault a "racially motivated verbal and physical assault." 

"I strongly condemn the actions of the individuals involved, whose conduct is detrimental to the city we are working to create," he said in a statement posted on Twitter. 

WATCH | Pembroke mayor says assault on elderly lady hurts the whole community
Mike LeMay, mayor of Pembroke, says the attack on an 80-year-old resident has made it clear that the community must work harder to fight racism. 0:50

"This incident demonstrates the need for us to work harder to promote welcoming values and show our residents that acceptance of all is the only way forward."

Tran said LeMay has reached out and the two plan to discuss the attack.

"You would hope that things would be better but it's not," Tran said. "That's the part that sort of strikes me the most — that not even my grandmother can be safe in her home. And that is the scariest thought to have."

OPP investigating

OPP are investigating the incident and continue to search for four young people, described as being between the ages of 15 and 17, and known to travel on bicycles. 

The teenagers were wearing baseball caps and shorts at the time of the attack, police said. One of them wore a red shirt.

According to a news release, officers are seeking the assistance of anyone in the Isabella Street area with home surveillance video, especially on Aug. 20 and 22.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact OPP. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers.

With files from Kimberley Molina

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