Toronto

Toronto police investigate 6 assaults in Roncesvalles neighbourhood

Toronto police are investigating six separate assaults in the city's Roncesvalles neighbourhood within the last two-and-a-half months. 

Unprovoked attacks reported in area of Roncesvalles, Howard Park avenues

Toronto police are investigating six separate but similar assaults in the area of Roncesvalles Avenue and Howard Park Avenue. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Toronto police are investigating six separate assaults in the city's Roncesvalles neighbourhood within the last two-and-a- half months. 

Toronto Police Insp. Chris Boddy of 11 Division said the attacks happened in the area of Roncesvalles Avenue and Howard Park Avenue. One occurred on May 13, two on July 20, two on July 21, and one on July 28. 

In five out of the six assaults, the victim was a woman. No one has reportedly been physically injured.

"We're not 100 per cent sure that all these are linked," Boddy told CBC Toronto on Wednesday.

"But they are similar enough in nature that we wanted to alert the residents of Toronto and specifically in the Roncesvalles area."

According to the police description of the assaults, the offender is a man acting alone. In some cases, he has spit or sprayed liquid on the victim.

Two women who were attacked in the neighbourhood spoke to CBC Toronto about the assaults last week.

Boddy said police have not yet obtained video images of the offender from home surveillance, CCTV cameras, business surveillance or vehicle dashboard cameras. Digital images would help investigators determine whether the incidents are connected, he said.

Officers have canvassed businesses, spoken to home owners, and now are making an appeal to people who may have been driving in the area of the time to come forward with dashboard camera video.

Police step up patrols in area

Boddy said police have increased their presence in the neighbourhood. 

"Our officers from 11 Division are right on top of this," he said. "We've been searching for witnesses, canvassing buildings, homes, businesses in all of these areas to try to get some information on exactly what is going on here.

"What I would like to say to residents is ... we are doing everything that we can to bring this event to a close."

Police want to find the man responsible, not only to stop the attacks, but also because they believe he is experiencing some kind of crisis.

"Obviously, there is some concern in the neighbourhood. We monitor social media. There's a lot of talk around social media about safety concerns in this specific area." 

Boddy said there have been reports of people being swarmed by a group of men wearing masks, but he added: "It's fine posting that on social media ... but you have to call the police if those events happen. And nobody has called us reporting that they were swarmed by four individuals wearing masks."

Assaults at different times of day

Police suggest that local residents be aware of their surroundings when out walking, stay off their phones and keep an eye on what is happening around them.

If a person is assaulted, police recommend that the person call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so and not wait until arriving home after the incident. Boddy recommended reporting all incidents to police instead of only posting about it on social media.

"We need to know this right away," he said.

Police said they are investigating the following assaults, which happened at different times of the day:

  • On Wednesday, May 13, a man approached a 50-year-old woman, assaulted her, then fled on foot.
  • On Monday, July 20,  a man approached a 55-year-old man, assaulted him, then fled on foot.
  • On Monday, July 20, a man approached a 36-year-old woman, threw a soda at her, then fled on foot.
  • On Tuesday, July 21, a man approached a 33-year-old woman from behind, proceeded to assault her, then fled on foot.
  • On Tuesday, July 21,  a man approached a 38-year-old woman, spat on her, then fled on foot.
  • On Tuesday, July 28, a man approached a 36-year-old woman, sprayed the contents of a drink at her, then fled on foot.

Police describe the offender as 25 to 40, 5-foot-8 inches to 5-foot-10 inches, thin to medium build, with black hair. In the most recent incident, the suspect was reportedly wearing a black baseball cap, grey t-shirt and grey shorts.

Investigators are urging anyone with information to call police at 416-808-1100, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS.

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