The victim, a 59-year-old man who had been living in a shelter, has not been identified as police are still notifying his family members. The man was found with multiple stab wounds shortly after 12 a.m. Sunday morning when police received a call about an assault, Toronto police said in a press release. The victim was taken to a hospital but died of his injuries.
“It was learned early on that the suspects being described in this were eight young females,” Detective Sergeant Terry Browne said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The teens were arrested soon after the attack and charged with second-degree murder. Three were just 13 years old, while another three were 14, and two were 16.
“What we’ve gleaned so far is that these eight individuals met via social media, they all come from varying parts of the city, and we don’t know how or why they met on that evening. We don’t know why they met downtown,” Browne said at the press conference. “We don’t know how long they’ve been acquitted with each other.”
“I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point but what is alleged to have occurred that evening is what we would traditionally call a swarming,” Browne added.
“Swarming” refers to an incident in which multiple attackers target a victim together, CNN reported.
Browne also noted that three of the girls had “prior contact” with police, but didn’t elaborate.
The detective sergeant said that the group of girls was also involved in an altercation earlier the same night in the same area and that a “number of weapons were secured” once the group was arrested, Vice reported.
Police wouldn’t describe the victim as homeless, but did say he was “living in the shelter system” due to recent “hard luck.” The victim apparently had been staying in a shelter since the fall, Fox News reported.
“He does have a very supportive family in the area,” Browne said at the press conference.
The teenagers appeared in court at 10 a.m. Sunday morning and were remanded into custody. Their next court appearance is set for December 29.
Police continue to investigate the incident and have asked for the public’s help in obtaining any video or information relating to the suspects’ whereabouts that evening or any video surveillance that may show the attack.