Police arrest, charge man after package of syringes left at midtown Toronto school

Police have arrested and charged a man after a package of syringes was left on the front doorstep an elementary school in midtown Toronto this week.

Members of a community safety team saw a man leave package

Parents and children head to Eglinton Junior Public School, where a package of syringes was found on Tuesday. Toronto police said they made an arrest and charged a man on Wednesday. Police said it was a mischief investigation. (CBC)

Police have arrested and charged a man after a package of syringes was left on the front doorstep an elementary school in midtown Toronto this week.

In a news release, police said a 44-year-old man of no fixed address has been charged with mischief interfere with property and failure to comply with probation. Police arrested him at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

No one was injured.

Police said they were called to Eglinton Junior Public School, in the area of Eglinton Avenue East and Mount Pleasant Road, at shortly before 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The school runs from kindergarten to Grade 6.

Members of a community safety team, created by the city to provide safety after it opened a temporary shelter in a former hotel in the area, saw a man leave a package by the school.

Police said the team is from the Roehampton Residence, at 808 Mt. Pleasant Rd., which has been turned into a shelter. The team notified police immediately.

The package contained several syringes and other paraphernalia, police said. A man was seen leaving on a dark-coloured bicycle.

The accused is due to appear in court on Thursday.

Syringes in original sealed packaging, police say

Det. Sgt. Scott Bradbury told reporters earlier on Wednesday that there were no drugs in the package but the syringes were in their original sealed packaging.

Bradbury said it was left on the front doorstep of the school. The package was wrapped in cloth material.

"Obviously, it's a concern, and it being left on the front doorstep of a public school, it has us really concerned, obviously, because of the small children and families and access to that package," he said.

Bradbury said he is relieved that no child was harmed..

Bradbury urged parents to stay vigilant, watch for items in the area, and if they come across anything, not to open it and to call police or the Roehampton shelter.

He said the community safety team is doing sweeps 24 hours a day.

Community safety team supporting school, principal says

Ian Wilson, principal of Eglinton Junior Public School, said nobody came into contact with the package. 

"The community safety team, which is here to support us from the Roehampton Residence, they come and sweep the school yard every day before school starts," he said. "And they're on site during entry and dismissal and throughout the day as well."

On Sept. 11, the city released a midtown school safety plan to "reduce the likelihood of any hazards or threats from happening" and to address concerns raised by residents about what they allege is a rise in violence after the shelter opened.

To house people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city leased three properties, the Roehampton hotel and two adjacent buildings on Broadway Avenue.

The site at 55/65 Broadway Ave. closed at the end of August, but the city has a two-year lease for the Roehampton, with an option for a third year.

With files from Linda Ward