London, Ont., police charge suspect with assaulting Muslim woman

A suspect has been arrested in connection with an alleged attack on a Muslim woman in a supermarket in London, Ont.

Victim was spat on, punched several times, and had her hair and hijab pulled, police say

London, Ont., police have arrested this woman after a Muslim woman was allegedly assaulted at a grocery store there. (Photo provided by London Police Service)

Police have arrested a 38-year-old woman in connection with an alleged attack on a Muslim woman in a supermarket in London, Ont., and charged her with assault.

The Muslim woman was shopping with her four-month-old son when she was attacked, according to police.

The woman was at the Superking Supermarket at 785 Wonderland Rd. S. at about 5 p.m. Monday when a woman she didn't know began yelling at her for no apparent reason, police said.

The stranger spat on the Muslim woman, punched her several times and then pulled at her hijab and hair, police said.

"We don't have a motive for the assault right now," London Police Service spokeswoman Sandasha Bough said. "We don't have any information that this is a hate motivated offence. In what you're seeing and what you're hearing and what was provided through social media Tuesday it would lead people to believe that. But right now we're looking at it as an assault."

The police department's street gang unit will review the investigation once it's complete. It will determine if the assault has elements of hate or bias, which could be used during sentencing, if charges are laid and the matter ends up in court.

"We're asking anybody who saw or heard anything to let us know," Bough said. "We're really, really hoping that the public can help. We've spoken to witnesses, but we're still looking for more."

Bough said it's unclear if the woman who carried out the attack was speaking English or another language.

"Only the people that were there can let us know what exactly was said," Bough said.

Police are looking into whether surveillance footage is available.

The suspect was located after tips were called in to Crime Stoppers and London police headquarters.

Police have not released the name of the woman arrested.

"The Police Services Act gives us permission to release names of people who are charged with offences but it's at the discretion of the chief or designate," Bough said.

"When we put photos out through social media … we routinely don't publish names of the arrested persons. That's because of some of the comments made through social media that would lead us to believe their safety is at risk."