Eight teenage girls who met through social media were charged in relation to the murder
of a 59-year-old homeless man.
On Dec. 18, eyewitnesses called emergency medical personnel in the area of York Street and University Avenue in downtown Toronto to aid an injured man. Det. Sgt. Terry Browne of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) said that the homeless man was brought to a hospital after paramedics discovered what appeared to be stab wounds. Unfortunately, the man died while being treated.
Browne later confirmed during a Dec. 20 news conference at the TPS headquarters that eight young females were the alleged attackers. Law enforcement quickly found and arrested the eight suspects after receiving information. The suspects were later indicted on second-degree murder charges.
The identities of the teenage girls were not revealed, citing protections granted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Three of the girls are aged 13, three are aged 14 while the other two are 16 years old. Browne added that "a number of weapons" were also confiscated, but he did not give further details.
According to TPS investigators, the girls may have been attempting to steal alcohol during the incident and that the homeless man may have been targeted at random. The suspects may have been involved in another altercation before they assaulted the 59-year-old man.
"I wouldn't describe them as a gang at this point, but what [is] alleged to have occurred that evening would be consistent with what we traditionally call a swarming," Browne told reporters.
It is not known how long the girls have known each other or why they came downtown that night, he stated. However, the sergeant remarked that they met through social media and live in neighborhoods across the city.
Murder victim had been dealing with homelessness for a long time
TPS officers have identified the victim, but have refused to divulge details while officers continue contacting his family members.
One anonymous source in the Toronto shelter system revealed to the Toronto Star
that based on records, the victim had been dealing with homelessness for a long time. They added that the homeless man spent nights in shelters for at least the past two years. (Related: Over 200 homeless people in Minneapolis EVICTED from a hotel-turned-shelter at the beginning of riots
According to the source, the man was not staying at the Strathcona Hotel, a co-ed emergency shelter opened as part of Toronto's pandemic response, during the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the city of Toronto said in a statement that they couldn't comment on the identity of shelter system clients, passing questions back to the police.
"The city is saddened to hear of the senseless attack that took the life of an individual this past weekend. We extend our deepest condolences to their family and friends," the statement said.
TPS is investigating whether the teenagers were involved in other altercations
in the city and Browne has called on anyone who encountered the girls or was attacked by them to contact investigators. The sergeant added that three of the girls have had earlier "contact" with police, while the other five had no previous police interactions. All eight were ordered to appear in court on Dec. 29.
for more news about assaults happening in Toronto and other parts of the world.
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's Jared Taylor talk about the rise of "teenage" assaults
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