Eight teenage girls who appear to have met on social media have been charged with manslaughter after the death of a 59-year-old man who was stabbed in downtown Toronto.
Police allege the girls attacked and stabbed the man early Sunday morning in a square near the central station in Canada’s largest city. Three of the girls are 13, three are 14 and two are 16, police said on Tuesday.
Police did not name the victim, but at a news conference, Toronto homicide detective Terry Browne said the man had recently moved into the city’s homeless shelter system.
“He has a very supportive family in the area, so I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless, maybe with some bad luck recently,” Browne said.
Browne said officers responded to a downtown call around midnight on Dec. 18 after bystanders alerted paramedics to report a man suffering from “stab wounds.”
According to the police, the girls allegedly assaulted and stabbed the victim after an altercation. The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries, but died a short time later.
Officers arrested the girls nearby after interviewing witnesses and recovering a number of weapons at the scene. None of the suspects can be identified under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Browne said investigators believe those involved in the attack met on social media and were from different parts of the city, but said it was still unclear why they met that night.
“I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point, but whatever [is] that would have occurred that night would be consistent with what we traditionally call a swarm,” Browne said.
Three of the suspects have had previous “contact” with police, Brown said, and the other five had no previous interactions with police.
The suspects appeared in court on Sunday and must appear in court again on December 29.