TORONTO — Eight teenage girls, some as young as 13, have contacted each other on social media and may have never met before. But last Saturday night they gathered in downtown Toronto and after a scuffle they surrounded and stabbed a man in an attack apparently for a bottle of alcohol, police said.
The murder, near a major traffic hub in Canada’s largest city, is the latest and one of the most brazen incidents in the region in which people have been randomly targeted by gangs. attack age.
The 59-year-old victim has yet to be identified by authorities. He had been in homeless shelters since the fall, police said, and on Saturday night he was outside a shelter in the Financial District when the suspects keep an eye on him.
The suspects – including three 13-year-olds, three 14-year-olds and two 16-year-olds – apparently stabbed him after trying to steal a bottle of wine from him, Sgt. Terry Browne of the Toronto Police Department told CBC on Wednesday. All were charged with second-degree murder.
Police said the murder followed another criminal case involving the teenagers that evening, the culmination of a meeting that began online.
Police said the girls contacted each other via social media before meeting in person on Saturday night in downtown Toronto, adding that they were from different parts of the city and does not seem to form a gang.
“We don’t know how or why they met that evening and why the destination was downtown Toronto,” said Sergeant Browne. speak at a press conference on Tuesday. “We don’t know how long they’ve known each other.”
News of the murders comes a day after five people were fatally shot by a 73-year-old resident inside a high-rise apartment building outside Toronto amid longstanding grievances against members of the governing board. apartment management. Isolated homicides over a period of several days come as fear of crime and violence is on the rise in Toronto — even as the actual violent crime rate has remained stable or decreased in recent years. this.
Authorities said early Sunday morning police responded to reports of an injured man in downtown Toronto, a few blocks from the iconic CN Tower. The man was taken to hospital, but died there shortly after from the stab wound.
Police described the attack on the man as “swarm behaviour” – in which the victim was robbed after being surrounded by a mob. Some of these robberies happen around Toronto last summerprompting police to increase security in the affected commercial areas.
Sergeant Browne said the group of girls was involved in another altercation involving “criminal conduct” before confronting the 59-year-old man. According to authorities, three of the girls had “pre-contact” with police before being killed.
Although robberies by youth groups are not a new type of crime, the term used to describe it – “swarm” – is believed to be Lee Jooyoung, a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Toronto. Mr. Lee said the term – coupled with teenage girls stabbing a man to death and mass shootings at an apartment complex – has caused the misconception that violent crime is becoming increasingly common. worse than.
“The crime rate may be falling and Toronto is certainly one of the safest major cities in North America by comparison,” Mr. Lee said. “However, when there are these kinds of serious, gratuitous violence, they can distort people’s sensitivities about the safety of a city.”
The term ‘herd’, Mr. Lee said, ‘creates the image that you’re not safe wherever you go and that, if you’re in a crowd of young people around, they can inadvertently attack you at any time. of a pin.”
Follow Toronto PoliceAlthough burglaries and robberies are on the rise, homicides and assaults have changed little in recent years. Already have 68 killing in Toronto so far this year, compared with 81 last year and 96 five years ago. attacks slightly lower than half a decade ago.
The stabbing of the 59-year-old took place outside Strathcona, a hotel in the Financial District that has been turned into a shelter for the homeless during the pandemic. On Wednesday, what appeared to be traces of blood could still be seen outside the hotel.
Chris Parker, manager at Bardi’s Steak House next to the hotel, says the neighborhood used to be a quiet area frequented by professionals, but now police cars and ambulances are called in regularly. He was working at the time of the stabbing, he said.
“We always hear sirens in the area, constantly, so I heard sirens around that time, but I didn’t think to look out the window – I just kept doing it. His paperwork and really didn’t find out until next time. Mr. Parker said.
Munish Kumar, 35, said he has been staying at the shelter for the past two years. At the time of the attack, he said he was smoking outside the building, but was unaware of the stabbing.
However, Mr. Kumar said he does not feel worried for his safety in the area.
“There are some messy people around here,” he said, “but that’s okay.”