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Woman dead after 'unprovoked attack' on downtown Toronto sidewalk

News of another vicious, apparently random attack in Toronto's downtown core — this one resulting in the death of an eldery woman — has shaken residents of Canada's largest city, who are more often than not these days waking up to headlines about violent crime in public spaces.

The Toronto Police Service announced around 1 p.m. on Friday that a woman was deceased after being attacked by a male suspect in the area of Yonge and King Streets shortly after 11:30 a.m.

The suspect, described as a man with red hair and a beard, is said to have fled the scene initially, but was apprehended and arrested by police roughly one hour later on nearby Richmond Street.

Toronto resident Karen Powelleti captured footage of the arrest, in which the suspect can be seen handcuffed and surrounded by police. He appears to be speaking the entire time, though his words are not audible.

"It is alleged that a male individual pushed an elderly female to the ground and then fled the scene," said Acting Toronto Police Inspector Craig Young said during a press conference this afternoon.

"Emergency services responded and immediately rendered life-saving measures, but unfortunately, the female was pronounced deceased at the scene as a result of the injuries sustained."

Young said that witness statements and a "significant video canvas of the area" helped police find the suspect and take him into custody.

"We do not believe there is any risk to the public at this point, from this individual, as he is in custody of 51 Division currently being investigated for the offence of aggravated assault," the inspector continued.

"Homicide Unit has been notified and are monitoring, but have not taken carriage of the investigation at this point in time pending the outcome of an autopsy."

The woman is believed to have been in her 70s or 80s. Her identity has not been released pending the notification of her next of kin.

According to Young, video evidence shows that the woman was "just simply walking along the sidewalk" when she was attacked by the suspect.

"The information we have is that she was pushed to the ground and she sustained serious injuries to her face and head area, but we can't confirm the cause of death at this point in time," he said during Friday's press conference.

"There could be other aggravating factors that occurred during the interaction which may have contributed to the cause of death which may not directly be attributable to the suspect."

While he could not formally confirm that the asssault was random, Young said that the case is being investigated as an "unprovoked attack" — something that Toronto has seen much of lately in an apparent wave of violence that the inspector called "incredibly troubling."

"Today we see another example of what appears to be a random violent attack on an innocent person in our city – something that has become far too common in cities across Canada," said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement Friday evening.

"An elderly woman walking down our main street in the middle of the day has lost her life in what police are describing as a 'reportedly unprovoked attack.' This is a tragedy and my condolences are with the woman's family and loved ones."

Tory went on to thank first responders for rushing to help the woman and quickly apprehend the suspect.

"While the facts of this specific case have not been determined and made public, we all know that we need to do everything we can to determine the root causes of such acts," said the mayor.

"We need to invest more in mental health and addiction treatment – we need the provincial and federal governments to do that as soon as possible. We need to continue to support our police service – I support doing that in our city's budget because I know we need more officers in the downtown and across the city."

Tory concluded that Toronto needs to change laws that are "out of date and less effective than they need to be," noting that the city will "continue to invest in anti-violence and neighbourhood initiatives."

Lead photo by

Karen Powelleti


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