Eight teenage girls — including some as young as 13 years old — have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with a fatal attack against a 59-year-old man protecting an Asian woman in Toronto last weekend.
The incident, which authorities described as a “swarming” attack, occurred in the area of York Street and University Avenue at around 12:17 a.m. on Sunday, according to reports.
The group initially targeted an Asian woman, according to AsAm News. She recalled them grabbing a bottle of alcohol from her before her male friend stepped in.
“My friend Kenny, he saw it. [He] stopped them,” the woman said.
Her friend allegedly told the teenagers to “leave her alone.” That’s when the attack started, the woman gestured by punching the air.
In less than three minutes, the teenagers allegedly surrounded, assaulted and stabbed the male victim. Paramedics took him to a nearby hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The suspects include two 16-year-olds, three 14-year-olds and three 13-year-olds. It is unclear how long they have known each other.
“They met each other through social media. We don’t know how or why they met that evening and why the destination was downtown Toronto,” said Det. Sgt. Terry Browne, according to CTV News Toronto.
The victim entered Toronto’s homeless shelter system in late fall and had a supportive family, as per CBC News Toronto. His death marks the city’s 68th homicide in 2022.
“Everyone in our city deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I am so saddened to know that a man has lost his life in this way,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
“I am extremely troubled by the young age of those accused and by the number of people allegedly involved in this murder. My thoughts are with this man’s friends and all those who knew him as they mourn his loss.”
The suspects are currently in custody and are set to return to court on Dec. 29.
The incident remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call 416-808-7400. Police also set up a dedicated website for evidence submission.