matthew mclellan toronto

Toronto police arrest 21-year-old man for randomly slashing strangers in the face

Police in Toronto have arrested and charged a man who, over the weekend, approached and slashed two people he did not know in the face with an "edged weapon."

While an official motive has yet to be revealed, police confirmed during a media scrum on Tuesday that both assaults were committed against people experiencing homelessness.

"The assaults have appeared at this point to have targeted two under-housed people in our city," said Toronto Police Insp. Kathlin Seremetkovski on Tuesday, calling the face slashings "unprovoked."

Police have warned homeless shelters in the downtown core about the assaults, and continue to urge members of the public to keep aware of their surroundings amid what appears to be another rash of random attacks in downtown Toronto.

News of the serial face slasher first broke on Monday when police appealed to the public for help in identifying a suspect who had assaulted two people on two separate days in different parts of downtown Toronto.

Police say the first assault occurred in the Dundas Street East and Victoria Street area around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 9. In that case, the suspect approached a victim from behind and then "slashed the victim in the face with an edged weapon unprovoked."

On Sunday, Dec. 11, around 5:45 a.m., police received another call for a stabbing near Yonge and Adelaide Streets, where the same suspect had approached a victim who was sleeping outdoors and slashed them in the face, again with an "edged weapon."

Surveillance footage from nearby businesses led police to believe that the same suspect was responsible for both attacks.

Someone must have recognized a still from that footage, distributed by the Toronto Police Service with their appeal, because the suspect was arrested at his home on Tuesday and is now in police custody.

Matthew McLellan, 21, of Toronto, will be charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault and two counts of Assault with a Weapon, according to police. A court date is still pending.

Seremetkovski told reporters on Tuesday that she had "no information to provide" about whether McLellan was known to police, or what kind of edged weapon he had used specifically.

She did, however, give credit to members of the community and local businesses for helping them find the suspect before he could hurt anyone else.

According to Seremetkovski, it was "tips provided from members of the community" and video evidence from surrounding businesses that gave police the information for potential leads needed to eventually catch the face slasher.

The officer also encouraged people to watch out for one another.

The Toronto Police Service's public safety data portal shows that major crimes are up about 17 per cent overall so far in 2022 compared to all of 2021.

With 20,162 assaults recorded this year to date, Toronto has already seen about a 10 per cent increase in violent attacks over the year previous. Assaults continue to make up the majority of all crimes committed in Toronto at just over 48 per cent.

Lead photo by

Toronto Police Service

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