Eight teenage girls charged with murder in Toronto stabbing death | Canada

Eight teenage girls who appear to have met on social media have been charged with second-degree murder over the death of a 59-year-old man who was stabbed in downtown Toronto.

Police allege that the girls assaulted and stabbed the man at a plaza near the main rail station in Canada’s largest city early on Sunday morning. Three of the girls are 13, three are 14 and two are 16, police said on Tuesday.

Police have not named the victim, but speaking at a news conference, Det Sgt Terry Browne of Toronto’s homicide unit said the man had recently moved into the city’s homeless shelter system.

“He does have a very supportive family in the area so I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless, maybe just recently on some hard luck,” Browne said.

Browne said officers responded to a call in the downtown core around midnight on 18 December after bystanders flagged down paramedics to report a man suffering from “stab wounds”.

Police say the girls are believed to have assaulted and stabbed the victim following an altercation. The man was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries but died a short time later.

Officers arrested the girls nearby after interviewing witnesses, recovering a number of weapons at the scene. None of the suspects can be identified under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Browne said investigators believe those involved in the attack met on social media and came from various parts of the city, but said it was still unclear why they met that evening.

“I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point but what [is] alleged to have occurred that evening would be consistent with what we traditionally call a swarming,” said Browne.

Three of the suspects have had previous “contact” with police, said Brown, and the other five had no prior interactions with police.

The suspects appeared in court on Sunday and are due again in court on 29 December.

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