Police in Toronto are trying to piece together how a night of bar crawls turned violent when a large group of young men were attacked by five men, one of whom was carrying a knife, and stabbed several people on Friday night.
“It was just a random attack in broad daylight,” said Jonathon Groves, the 32-year-old president of the City of Toronto Downtown Business Association, who suffered minor stab wounds in the incident. “We had what was described to us as a party, a big street party, involving thousands of people that came in and partied,” Groves told the Guardian.
He said there were at least four women attacked – two of whom have yet to be found – but he was the sole male to be stabbed.
“One of the men just walked up to me and stabbed me right in the backside, he had a butcher knife,” Groves recalled. “I just heard screams and looked back and there was this guy running up, punching me in the face and yelling at me to get down,” he said.
The attack happened near the intersection of Port Edward Avenue and Bronson Avenue at around 2am, according to the Toronto Sun. The Toronto homicide squad is currently investigating.
“This was an unprovoked attack that appears to have been on purpose,” Constable Victor Kwong told the Sun. “If there’s going to be any closure or solace for any of the victims then it is going to be if the offender is located and faces the charges.”
The attack appears to be of a similar nature to the Toronto Hells Angels gang attack that left nine people injured in July 2013. Two riders were said to have been trying to stab rival gang members on the sidewalk when they were attacked by other members, leading to a chaotic exchange of gunfire that led to them being left injured.
Gladstones restaurant in Toronto was the scene of the crime on Friday night, said Groves, who said the now-closed establishment would continue to operate in the downtown core.
“I still have a hole in my back,” Groves said. “I was disoriented the entire time and I don’t remember much.”
Police have released a series of photos captured by surveillance cameras in an effort to find the suspects responsible for the attack.
“We have experienced officers and even transit operators working on this investigation and I appreciate their bravery,” said Detective Sgt. Ed D’Asti. “Officers are going to go everywhere and anyone could be a witness.”
Groves warned his peers to exercise caution during night-time commutes in the city.
“It’s a serious incident that could have easily been so much worse,” Groves said. “One of the interesting things about this incident was that the officers working on it was actually on duty when it happened and had just arrived.”
“I think if you’re walking downtown at night, stay in groups.”
“Stay down on the sidewalk. Don’t venture out into the middle of the street. And in case there’s any problems, get down to the back of the group.”