Eight teenage girls each face a charge of second-degree murder in the “swarming” death of a 59-year-old man who lived in Toronto’s shelter system, police said Tuesday.
Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne said the girls, who range in age from 13 to 16, met on social media and congregated on Saturday night in the city’s downtown core, where they were allegedly involved in two fights.
The second fight sent the man, whose name has not been released, to hospital early Sunday morning with life-threatening injuries. Police said he was later pronounced dead.
Browne said three of the girls had previous interactions with police, while the other five did not. He said three of the girls were 13, three were 14 and two were 16.
“We don’t know how or why they met on that evening, and why the destination was downtown Toronto. We don’t know,” he said.
“We don’t know how long have they been acquainted … but I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point. But what they are alleged to have occurred that evening would be consistent with what we traditionally call a swarming.”
He said officers recovered weapons nearby, but declined to say what those weapons were. A police press release said the man had been stabbed.
Browne said the man had moved into the city’s shelter system in recent months, and had a supportive family who lived nearby.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless — maybe just recently on some hard luck,” Browne said.
The eight accused appeared in court on Sunday morning, and are due back next week. Their identities cannot be released under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Police are asking anyone who may have come into contact with the girls on Saturday night to come forward.