Toronto police are searching for a suspect who appears to be targeting and assaulting members of Etobicoke’s South Asian community over the last two weeks.
The latest incident occurred on September 4, police said, in the area of Lakeshore Boulevard West and Legion Road.
At that time, the suspect allegedly shouted racially-charged comments toward a 32-year-old man while holding an object in his hand. Police said the victim tried to call police, but the suspect took his phone and threw it to the ground.
“The victim tried to get his phone, at which point the suspect assaulted the victim in an attempt to prevent him from doing so,” police said in a news release issued Wednesday.
Investigators say the victim was able to retrieve his phone and fled the area while contacting police.
A day earlier, the suspect approached a 27-year man who was walking with a 26-year-old woman in the area of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Twenty Ninth Street.
Police said that the suspect began striking the male victim several times without warning. After calling out for help, 911 was called, police said, adding that the suspect then began running southbound on Twenty Eighth Street.
Two similar incidents in the area were recorded by police on August 31 and August 25, including one instance where the suspect assaulted a 21-year-old victim before removing his turban.
Officers from Toronto police’s hate crime unit are investigating the four separate incidents and say all the victims are of South Asian descent.
“Police are actively investigating these incidents as hate-motivated assaults,” police said. “The investigation is on-going and anyone who may have witnessed the incident or incidents, and has information, is urged to contact police.”
The suspect is described as white, standing five-foot-eight to five-foot-nine inches tall with a medium build.
An image of the suspect was released by police on Friday in an effort to identify him.
Anyone with information relating to these incidents is asked to contact Toronto police or Crime Stoppers.