Teenagers who allegedly stabbed a homeless man may have been involved in other violent incidents that night


The eight teenage girls accused of ‘swarming’ and fatally stabbing a man in downtown Toronto last weekend are being investigated for other unrelated violent incidents that occurred this that night, learned the Star.

Eight women aged 13 to 16 remain in custody after being arrested and charged with second-degree murder following Saturday night’s attack that ended the life of a 59-year-old man. Their identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The police did not release the identity of the victim.

The shocking alleged involvement of eight teenage girls in a murder is unprecedented in Toronto, a city that also recently saw two teenage girls charged with committing an armed robbery. The so-called « swarming » that took place recalls a term popularized in the late 1980s after a series of incidents in Toronto and elsewhere that typically involved young teenage boys.

« I don’t recall a situation where eight women were involved in something like this, » Homicide Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne said at a press conference on Tuesday. He told reporters the girls met through social media and arranged to meet downtown on Saturday night.

The teens are a mix of urban and suburban residents who hail from neighborhoods stretching from Scarborough to Etobicoke and downtown Toronto, Browne said. One of the teenagers lives in the 905 area west of town. Three had already been in contact with the police.

Investigators have not publicly confirmed on which social media platform the girls met.

At the press conference, Browne said the attack happened near Union Station around midnight and the girls may have been involved in an earlier altercation in the area of ​​York Street, University Avenue and Front Street.

Police believe the girls were trying to steal a bottle of alcohol from the victim’s girlfriend when the violence erupted, and that there were at least two other possible swarming incidents involving the girls that evening , a law enforcement source close to the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday.

The first incident happened at St. Andrews TTC station, the source said, where police believe the girls met before heading east towards Union. After Browne’s press conference, police received calls from members of the public reporting that the girls may have also swarmed bystanders at Union Station, the source said.

If additional charges are to be brought against the group for other incidents, it will be done by divisional detectives, Browne wrote in an email to the Star.

The city declined to confirm reports of altercations at either transit hub on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning, while a TTC spokesperson referred them to police. investigation of potential incidents at Union and St. Andrews stations.

The girls appeared in court but were not found guilty of any offenses related to last weekend. They are due to appear in court again on December 29.

Tracy Vaillancourt, a professor at the University of Ottawa and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health and Violence Prevention, said it was « atypical » to see teenage girls engaging in assaults that could lead to a charge of murder.

She said the case highlights how groups can have a « deindividualizing effect, » where people’s individual actions and responsibilities are eclipsed and obscured by the actions of a group, which can lead to impulsiveness and violence.

« What that means is that the way you behave in a group gone bad, like here, is not how you would normally behave if you were alone, » Vaillancourt said. « In a way, it dulls you, desensitizes you to the plight and plight of the person you’re hurting. »

The victim in this case might also have been easier to target because she was from a vulnerable group, Vaillancourt said.

The Toronto Youth Cabinet, the city’s official youth advisory body, said it was « disheartened » to learn of the attack.

“We must also recognize that violence against the homeless and those in precarious housing is on the rise and that those who are most vulnerable in our communities will be the recipients of these acts of violence,” said a statement from the executive director of the Cabinet, Stephen Mensah.

« As a society, we must not be comfortable and content with the rise in violence, nor the deterioration of the socio-economic conditions in which our young people find themselves. »

With files from Victoria Gibson and The Canadian Press


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