Eight Canadian teenage girls who reportedly met on social media have been arrested after allegedly “swarming” a homeless man on a Toronto street and horrifically stabbing him to death, according to the Toronto Police Service.
The teens – consisting of three 13 year-olds, three 14 year-olds, and two 16 year-olds – have all been charged with second-degree murder in the incident, which took place just after Midnight on Sunday.
The girls – whose identities have been withheld by authorities by law due to Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act – allegedly stabbed a 59 year-old man who had been living in a Toronto homeless shelter; the name of the victim is currently not being publicly released pending notification of his next of kin.
Police responded to reports of an assault at about 12:17 a.m., at which time they located the victim lying in the street and transported him to a local area hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The suspects were soon located nearby and placed under arrest.
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Det. Sgt. Terry Browne of the Homicide and Missing Persons Unit noted at a Tuesday press conference that the girls were considered a “gang” and that they attacked the victim in what was described as “swarming,” meaning that they carried out the alleged killing as a group.
“From what we gathered so far, is that they met each other through social media. They come from varying parts of the city. That’s to say they’re not from one specific geographic location. We don’t know how or why they met on that evening or why the destination was downtown Toronto,” Browne said. “We don’t know how long they’ve been acquainted together with each other. But I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point. What they are alleged to have occurred that evening would be consistent with what we would traditionally call a swarming or a swarming-type behavior.”
The victim, who had only been in the city’s homeless shelter system for a few months, was described by Browne as having “a very supportive family in the area, so I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless, maybe just recently on some hard luck.”
Browne noted that the suspects – three of whom had had prior run-ins with the law – all had weapons potentially used in the crime seized from their respective homes.
The suspects are next scheduled to appear in court on December 29.