Attack on Brampton, Ont. media personality 1 of 3 such incidents, police won't say if connected
WARNING: This story contains graphic details readers may find disturbing
An attack on a well-known Brampton real estate agent and media personality in his own driveway was one of three such recent attacks, police say.
Peel Regional Police told reporters at a news conference Thursday that they are aware of the string of attacks on media personalities but have not said in what period of time they took place.
Asked if the incidents might be related, police declined to say.
"We do believe this is a targeted incident and the city of Brampton remains a very safe community to live in," Peel Regional Police Supt. Sean Gormley told reporters.
"Certainly, there are three incidents that I'm aware of in which the victims are all members of the media. I can't say whether or note these are related to one another. Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, is something that we value in our country and it's something that we are going to look into."
Gormley spoke to reporters after Joti Singh Mann was left with life-altering injuries in what police say was a targeted attack on Aug. 4. Three masked men wielding a machete and an axe attacked Mann after he got into his car in the area of Mayfield Road and Hurontario Street at about 8:15 a.m.
Mann is a host with Fateh Media 5, which broadcasts in Punjabi on radio and YouTube.
Police say the attack continued outside of the car until Mann's mother intervened and the suspects fled.
Police say the attack is being investigated as an attempted murder. They have since released a photo of the suspects and are appealing to the public for help in identifying them.
Gormley says Mann received a death threat a few days before the attack and that police had put a safety plan in place. Police are now looking into whether a vehicle seized from the area a few months ago is connected to the attack.
"No matter what the motive is, this is a completely egregious attack on a gentlemen who lives in our community and we are going to put all of our resources toward identifying those persons responsible," he said.
Victim in high spirits, Brampton councillor says
Brampton councillor Gurpreet Dhillon told CBC Toronto that he spoke to the victim and his family on Tuesday.
"He's in very high spirits right now and they're just looking forward to having an investigation done by the police and finding out who the culprits are," Dhillon said.
WARNING: This video contains graphic images viewers may find disturbing
In a video of the attack obtained by CBC Toronto, Mann can be seen entering a white Jeep Rubicon before the three men suddenly approach. They break the driver's side window, open the door, and pull the victim out before dragging him behind the vehicle and beating him with their weapons.
Mann suffered severe injuries, Dhillon said.
"He had lacerations all over his body," he added. "Severe cuts and injuries to his hand. And muscular issues, bone bruises as well."
Dhillon said one of Mann's big toes was also amputated in surgery later that day.
Speaking through the assistance of a translator, Mann's father Surjit Singh Mann, recounted how his wife saw their son being attacked from inside and ran to his rescue, chasing off his attackers. Police said they don't recommend doing what his mother did, but that she helped to save Mann's life.
Mann's father said the three men ran off and got into a car with a fourth assailant who drove them away.
His father said Mann is "a very hardworking guy and he doesn't have anything to do with these vicious people who attacked him."
He said he was grateful to hear that his son will survive and he hopes the police bring the perpetrators to justice.
"They should be punished accordingly," Surjit told CBC News.
Surjit said his entire family is struggling in the aftermath of the attack, and that Mann's wife and children are avoiding walking their dog or cutting their grass.
"They won't come out to do their routine work because they're scared," he said.
Attack came days after threatening phone call
Dhillon said the attack came after Mann received a threatening phone call three days earlier.
The city councillor couldn't describe the details of the threat but said Mann had already reported the call to police.
I strongly condemn the violent assault on Punjabi media host, Joti Singh Mann in Brampton. I wish Joti Singh Mann a speedy recovery and request authorities to bring the culprits to justice at the earliest.—@Taranvir__
"I think everybody's pretty shaken," he said. "I spoke to a couple of residents who themselves, you know, they say they're taking a look over their shoulders when they're getting out to go to work in the morning."
He said he has faith the police will successfully investigate and find the attackers.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he was horrified by the video — "it chilled me that something that brutal, that vicious, in broad daylight could happen in a very quiet neighbourhood" — but that he has been told that police have strong leads in the case.
"I hope the individuals responsible face the full extent of the law and the consequences that fall from that," he said.
"The mother was heroic in standing up to these thugs."
Police are asking for anyone who has video that would be helpful to the investigation to come forward. Investigators are continuing to canvas the neighbourhood for video.
The first suspect is described as wearing black clothing with black gloves, a black baseball hat and a surgical mask.
The second suspect is described as wearing black clothing, black shoes with red laces, black gloves and a surgical mask.
The third suspect is described as wearing a black sweater with hood up, grey track pants, black gloves and a surgical mask.