'Swarming' attack by 10 to 15 young people leaves 2 transit workers hurt, Toronto police say

Toronto police say about 10 to 15 young people attacked 2 TTC employees on a bus in Scarborough after school on Monday. (Darek Zdzniecki/CBC - image credit)
Toronto police say about 10 to 15 young people attacked 2 TTC employees on a bus in Scarborough after school on Monday. (Darek Zdzniecki/CBC - image credit)

Toronto police are investigating a "swarming" assault of two TTC employees on a bus in Scarborough on Monday afternoon, police and the transit agency say.

Police said the assaults happened on a bus in the area of Kennedy and Merrian roads, south of Eglinton Avenue East. Officers were called to the bus at about 3:35 p.m and went to the scene with TTC special constables.

About 10 to 15 young people attacked the uniformed employees and left them with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. The attackers fled the area on foot.

The two employees were treated on the scene. A third employee, the bus driver, was traumatized by the attack, according to the TTC.

Police have not released a description of the suspects.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the two employees were on their way to Kennedy subway station when the attack happened.

"We have three TTC employees who were victimized by this attack today. It's an absolutely despicable act against our employees," he said.

Darek Zdzniecki/CBC
Darek Zdzniecki/CBC

Green said the TTC is concerned about the attack, another attack on a TTC employee on the weekend, and recent attacks against passengers.

"These are all of concern to us," Green said. "I mean the TTC at its core is a public transit agency, yet we find ourselves in the position of having to address very complex social issues as well."

Green said the TTC is working to provide its employees and customers with a sense of safety and security. The budget calls for additional special constables as well as new streets-to-homes workers this year.

"There's clearly something larger at play here. It is a larger societal issue at play that is outside of the domain of the TTC, but you know, clearly they're manifesting on the TTC and so we need to be part of those discussions and we are," he said.

"We absolutely understand, when these things happen, that they give our customers and our employees pause. There's no question they are concerning events. The context that I put around these is that we move millions of people a day. We move hundreds of millions of people every year without incident," he added.

"On days when there are incidents, they are of great concern to everybody and we understand that and that's why we've invested and redeployed staff the way we have."

In a statement earlier, the TTC condemned the act, saying it is co-operating fully with police and provide any video.

"Attacks on transit employees are covered under a special provision of the Criminal Code," the TTC added.

Under 269.01 (1) of the Criminal Code, when a person is convicted of assault involving a transit operator, the court can take into consideration "as an aggravating circumstance" the fact that the victim was a public transit operator.

Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC
Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113,  said in a news release on Monday that there must be accountability.

"Our members are disgusted with the repeated and escalated acts of violence against transit workers," Marvin Alfred, president of the local, said in the release.

"We will always advocate for our members, but we need support from the City of Toronto and the TTC too."

"These attacks leave long-term psychological impacts that remain with our members much after their physical wounds have healed," the release said. The union said it is continuing to ask for help from Toronto Mayor John Tory and TTC CEO Rick Leary.

"It's getting out of hand and public transit needs to be safe again for our workers and passengers."

Mayor expresses concern about recent violence 

In a statement on Twitter on Monday, Tory said he was "concerned about the increasing number of criminal acts involving young people."

"I strongly believe this is something all governments have to work together to urgently address with social and mental health experts," he said.

Police are urging anyone with any information to call 41 Division at 416-808-4100.

On Saturday, a TTC operator was shot with a BB gun while waiting to begin her shift. The operator was not harmed physically.

The transit employee was standing outside near the intersection of Markham Road and Progress Avenue in Scarborough shortly before 6:30 p.m. when a black sedan drove by and she was shot at.

Police said the suspects are described as white men, possibly teenagers.

The swarming incident comes just over a month after another such attack, in which police say eight teen girls swarmed 59-year-old Ken Lee, allegedly beating and stabbing him near a downtown homeless shelter.

Lee died shortly afterward in hospital.