Police identify Toronto man allegedly stabbed to death by teen girls
The identity of a 59-year-old man killed in Toronto after allegedly being “swarmed” by a group of eight teenage girls has been released by Canadian authorities.
Ken Lee was fatally stabbed on a cold night in mid-December.
Police said he was surrounded by girls aged between 13 and 16, who were arrested nearby and charged in the days after the attack.
Lee had recently been living in a homeless shelter.
Toronto police released his identity on Tuesday, weeks after the 18 December attack which took place near midnight local time in the city’s downtown core following an altercation. Police have said they believe Lee may have been preyed upon because he was spotted carrying alcohol.
He later died in hospital.
The girls are currently facing second-degree murder charges. As minors, they cannot be identified under Canadian law.
Police said the girls first met online before gathering in person the night of the attack, possibly for the first time. They do not believe it was gang related.
The attack shocked the city, with Toronto Mayor John Tory saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the case.
“I’ve been in policing for almost 35 years and you think you’ve seen it all,” Detective Sergeant Terry Browne told the Associated Press in a December interview. “If this isn’t alarming and shocking to everyone, then we’re all in trouble quite frankly.”
Speaking to reporters after the assault, Detective Browne called the assault an “anomaly”, adding that the girls arrived to the downtown Toronto area from different parts of the city.
Three of the girls have had prior run-ins with police, authorities said.
Lee’s name was added on Tuesday to the Toronto Homeless Memorial, maintained by the Church of the Holy Trinity near the city centre.
Doug Johnson Hatlem, a street pastor who works with the homeless community in Toronto, told the BBC on Wednesday that, while he did not know Lee personally, he knew many who did.
“People called him Kenny,” he said, and he was someone who was generous and loyal. “He was known to be very gentle and kind.”
Lee’s death has struck a nerve among people living on the streets in Toronto, who are facing increasing levels of violence and abuse, he said.
His family called him “a beloved son, brother, and uncle” in an online fundraiser to help cover his funeral and legal fees related to the case.
Last autumn as he “was experiencing some bad luck and he left home determined to get his life back on track”, they said.