Eight teenage girls who 'met on social media' charged with murder over Toronto stabbing death

Generic American / Canadian police tape
Police are investigating the incident in Toronto, Canada. (file photo) Credit: AP

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

The man was assaulted and stabbed in the city's downtown area early on Sunday morning, Toronto police said, adding medics took him to a hospital, where he died.

Though they did not name the victim, Detective Sergeant Terry Browne of Toronto Police's Homicide Squad said he had been living in the city's homeless shelter system since September.

According to police, the eight girls were arrested near where the attack occurred. Three of the girls are 13 years old, three are 14 and two are 16.

DS Browne said investigators think the girls were trying to take a bottle of alcohol from the man.

“I've been in policing for almost 35 years and you think you've seen it all,” he said in an interview.

"Eight young girls and most under the age of 16. If this isn't alarming and shocking to everyone, then we're all in trouble quite frankly.”

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DS Browne said the girls had "met each other through social media," adding, "We don’t know how or why they met on that evening and why the destination was downtown Toronto. We don’t know how long they were acquainted with each other."

DS Browne said they took part in a "swarming," declining to say if they videotaped it. He said they would look to see if there were similar attacks online, adding, "I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point."

"They are all equally culpable,” he said. “There is no doubt in our minds that they were all working as a singular entity in a swarming mob mentality when they chose to attack this man."

“Maybe these were eight young women that wanted to make a name for themselves and see if they could become socially famous,” DS Browne added.

He said a number of weapons were seized, but did not say what kind.

DS Browne said police had spoken to the teens' parents, adding, "I can tell you it was a shock to find out that their children were involved in an event like this."

Canadian authorities cannot release the girls' names by law because they are underage.

They have made their first court appearance and remain in custody. Their next court appearance will be on 29 December.