Eight teenage girls who met through social media were charged with the murder of a homeless man in Toronto on Sunday, police said.
The gang of three 13-year-olds, three 14-year-olds and two 16-year-olds swarmed their 59-year-old victim at a plaza near the main rail station just after midnight Dec. 18, the Toronto Police Service announced.
Bystanders that saw the girls stabbing the man at York Street and University Avenue flagged down EMS, who transported the victim to a nearby hospital. The victim, who had been living in the city’s shelter system for several weeks, died from his injuries, Detective Sergeant Terry Browne said at a Tuesday press conference.
The teenagers were found near the scene carrying a “number of weapons,” Browne revealed.
The group of girls — whose identities are protected under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act — may have gone out with the intention of causing trouble. Police said the teenagers were involved in another altercation about two hours before they allegedly killed the homeless man.
“What they are alleged to have occurred that evening would be consistent with what we traditionally call a swarming or swarming type behavior,” Browne said.
Three of the teenagers have a history with police, Browne said.
The girls live in varying parts of Toronto and met through social media, though police do not yet know how long they’ve known each other. Officials are still investigating why they met in the area and what their plans for the evening may have been.
All eight girls have been charged with second-degree murder. They were remanded into custody and are scheduled to appear again at the end of the month.