Toronto police report 3rd incident of man throwing bucket of feces

Police in Toronto are searching for a suspect who they say tossed feces at a woman near a University of Toronto building before running away. 

'For anyone who thinks this might be a joke, it's not,' police constable warns

Toronto police have released a new security camera image of the suspect in these assaults. The suspect is described as black, in his 20s to 30s, and of medium build. He was wearing a yellow construction hat and a dark-blue jacket. (Toronto Police Service)

A man allegedly assaulting strangers by throwing buckets of feces on them has struck for a third time, Toronto police said Tuesday as they appealed for public help in the case.

Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said the three incidents, which took place between Friday afternoon and late Monday night, all appear to have been carried out by the same suspect striking random targets.

"It's so bizarre," Douglas-Cook said in a telephone interview. "You can imagine the questions, and we're just as confused as everyone — and just as determined to try to put an end to this. Because it's just absolutely horrible and disgusting and confusing."

Douglas-Cook said the most recent attack took place just before midnight Monday at a major intersection in the city's downtown core.

She said a man in a yellow construction hat and dark blue jacket allegedly walked up to a woman and poured a bucket of liquefied fecal matter over her before running away.

The alleged assault closely mirrored two previous incidents that unfolded on separate university campuses over the weekend.

A firefighter washes a sidewalk near College and McCaul streets after a suspect hurled a bucket of feces at a woman. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

The first of those came on Friday afternoon at the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, when Douglas-Cook alleges a man emptied a bucket of feces over a man and woman seated at a table.

Two days later, she said he did the same thing to a man sitting inside the Scott Library at York University.

She said investigators have not been able to pick up on a pattern among the alleged victims, noting they do not appear to have any connection to each other and did not recognize the suspect.

"I'm not seeing any consistency with any one group being targeted, and that includes gender or race or anything at this point," Douglas-Cook said.

The suspect is described as a black male in his 30's who was wearing a yellow construction hard hat, blue shirt and gloves at the time.

In the latest incident, officers were able to collect an orange bucket left behind at this scene. The bucket is now being forensically tested so that police can pinpoint exactly what is inside.

Someone on campus at the University of Toronto had fecal matter thrown on them last Friday, police say. Two days later, someone at York University had the same thing happen to them. (Submitted by Jason Huang)

Const Victor Kwong, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, says police have no idea what the motive may be at this time but have issued a warning to the suspect. 

"For anyone who thinks this might be a joke, it's not. It carries the same charge as an assault. In fact, it will be an assault."

Toronto Mayor John Tory called the alleged assaults "inexplicable" and urged the public to co-operate in helping police close the case.

"I just hope that people support the police in trying to track this person down," Tory said at a news conference. "This is a person, to me, who has some very serious issues."

The recurring incidents garnered a great deal of attention on social media from Toronto residents disgusted by the prospect of crossing paths with the suspect.

But Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital, said the public's understandable concern need not be complicated by concerns for their health.

He said that while fecal matter teems with bacteria, the human immune system is well-equipped to neutralize any contact with the substance — regardless of its source.

"Once in awhile a pathogen can slip past the goalie and cause an infection, but certainly if someone had an exposure like this the risk is still very, very low," he said.

with files from Salma Ibrahim, Adam Carter