Toronto residents question safety of Cherry Beach following chainsaw attack
Two blood-covered, chainsaw-wielding men emerged from the bushes of a popular public park in Toronto on Sunday morning, where witnesses say they screamed at, followed, and even lunged toward strangers while revving their deadly tools.
It's not the kind of thing you see very often in a large Canadian city... or anywhere outside of a horror movie, for that matter.
And yet, Toronto Police confirmed that two people were arrested and two others injured yesterday when a "large group of people were in a physical altercation" involving at least one chainsaw near Toronto's Cherry Beach.
Police have yet to release the suspects' names, charges, or the nature and extent of any injuries, but Toronto Police Const. Caroline de Kloet did say on Sunday that the chainsaws were not used as weapons.
An investigation into the fight is ongoing, which means that few other details are available from police.
Curious locals are thus relying on people who were at or around Cherry Beach around 10 a.m. on Sunday morning for the scoop.
First-hand accounts of what happened have been spreading like wildfire on social media over the past 24 hours, painting scary pictures in the heads of many.
One video, posted late Sunday night to Facebook by David Sullivan, gave interested parties their first good glimpse of the chainsaw-weilding men in action.
In the clip, two shirtless men are seen approaching a local windsurfing club at the eastern end of Cherry Beach.
The bloodied men yell things as they approach people outside the windsurfing club, their chainsaws buzzing the entire time. One man can be heard yelling "who hit me?"
The video isn't timestamped, but witnesses say police were fast to arrive after they called 911, meaning the standoff couldn't have lasted very long.
Despite the fast and heavy police response, people who frequent the beautiful beach and recreational trail are expressing concerns over how unsafe the area has become lately.
@JohnTory what the hell is going on at cherry beach? A shanty town of chain saw wielding drug addicts that the police turn a blind eye to? This is an absolute disgrace.— Jordan Heidendahl (@JordanHeid) August 10, 2020
"I post here because perhaps this is a beach that you go to with your family, dog, friends to enjoy. In the recent months there's been several assaults because the City of Toronto seems to have ignored bylaw enforcement and policing in this area," wrote a member of the Leslieville neighbourhood Facebook group.
"They're starting to understand more people are using the area and conflict is happening. I personally visit Cherry Beach often and am concerned about the situation. I'm going to send emails to the Mayor's Office and Councilor Fletcher with my thoughts."
"I was there on Saturday and watched a man OD from the tent encampment on the beach," wrote another.
"Eventually the paramedics showed up to take him to the hospital. Not sure the best way to keep this from happening. It was tragic and there were families there who witnessed it."
Here’s a question- please tell us how you have been addressing the threat posed to public by growing encampments at cherry beach https://t.co/s0ca2wxR6G— Masha (@masha_dieSonne) August 10, 2020
Others are calling out the late night, rave-style parties Cherry Beach is known for — events which have been taking place peacefully for more than a decade without incident.
Other still are linking the wild chainsaw situation to more recent large gatherings in the area, one of which made headlines in June thanks to photos of large crowds and and other pandemic restriction violations.
It's impossible to know what motivated these men to bring chainsaws to Cherry Beach without more information. Hopefully police can provide further updates in the coming days to put some minds at ease.
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