Eight teenage girls who met on social media charged with ‘swarming’ murder of man in Toronto
Eight teenage girls who met on social media have been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 59-year-old man, Toronto police said.
A man, who has not been identified, recently moved into the shelter system and was allegedly stabbed to death by the young suspects early Sunday morning in downtown Toronto.
Police said emergency crews responded to the scene in the area of York Street and University Avenue around 12:17 p.m.
The man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where he was pronounced dead.
The girls were arrested near where the attack took place.
The three arrested girls were between 13 and 16 years old, police said.
Detective Sergeant Terry Browne of the Toronto Police Service Homicide Squad said the girls tried to take a bottle of alcohol from the man.
“I’ve been in policing for almost 35 years and you think you’ve seen it all,” Sergeant Browne said.
“Anyone who isn’t shocked to hear something like that has clearly just thrown in the towel and just said anything is possible in this world.
“Eight young girls and most under the age of 16. If that’s not alarming and shocking to everyone, then we’re all honestly in trouble.”
He said he would not describe the group as a “gang” but they had a “swarm-like behaviour”.
“They met through social media. They come from different parts of the city,” he said.
“We don’t know how or why they met that night and why the destination was downtown Toronto. We don’t know how long they knew each other.”
Before the stabbing, the same girls were apparently involved in another altercation earlier in the night. But police have not released details or released the names of the girls because of a provision in the Juvenile Justice Act.
Three of the girls had previous encounters with the police.
“Maybe it was eight young women who wanted to make a name for themselves and see if they could become socially famous,” he said.
The police said they were all equally guilty.
“There is no doubt in our mind that they were all operating as a singular entity in a teeming mob mentality when they chose to attack this man.”
He said a number of weapons were seized.
“It’s bizarre that they would all join together and find their way to downtown Toronto. Their primary residences are everywhere,” he said.
He added that the girls’ parents were shocked to find out that their children were involved in a serious crime like this.
The girls made their first court appearance and remain in custody. Their next court appearance is scheduled for December 29.
Speaking about the victim, Sergeant Browne said they were trying to reach the next of kin of the man.
“He does have a very supportive family in the area, so I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless. Maybe just recently on some hard luck,” he said.
Police urged anyone with information about the incident to contact investigators.