Toronto police have released the identity of the man they believe is responsible for the death of a woman after an alleged unprovoked attack this week in the city’s downtown core.
Ryan Cunneen, 37, of Toronto, has been charged with aggravated assault and mischief over $5,000. He was arrested on Friday shortly after an 89-year-old woman was assaulted at Yonge and King streets, near the financial district, at 11:39 a.m.
Police said the woman had been walking alone when she was allegedly pushed to the ground and sustained serious injuries to her face and head. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Woman killed in alleged unprovoked attack in downtown Toronto, police say
Police have not yet identified the woman, saying they are waiting for her autopsy results before labelling the case a homicide.
“The information that we have is that she was pushed to the ground, sustained serious injuries to her face and head area, but at this point in time … pending the outcome of the autopsy, we can’t confirm the cause of death,” Toronto Police Acting Inspector Craig Young told the Globe and Mail, noting that the homicide unit had been made aware of the investigation.
It is unclear whether the victim and the accused knew each other. Police said Mr. Cunneen had been arrested and charged with assault twice in 2020: once for allegedly spitting on a woman near Front and Bay Streets, and another time for shoulder-checking a man near Gerrard and Yonge Streets.
Shortly before Friday’s alleged assault, police said, Mr. Cunneen threw a brick through the window of a business in the Church Street and Front Street East area.
Police said he appeared in court on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Toronto Mayor John Tory offered his condolences in a series of tweets on Friday, calling for more police in the city’s downtown areas and anti-violence initiatives, and demanded provincial and federal governments to invest more in mental health and addiction treatments across the country.
“Today we see another example of what appears to be a random violent attack on an innocent person in our city – something that has become far too common in cities across Canada,” he said. “This is a tragedy and my condolences are with the woman’s family and loved ones.”
Officers on Friday acknowledged “a series of tragic occurrences” that have been plaguing Toronto as of late.
Early last month, a 31-year-old woman was killed in an allegedly random afternoon stabbing while riding a subway car in the city’s west end.
Last June, a woman died after she was set on fire on a Toronto Transit Commission bus in what police said was a random attack.
And in April, a woman was pushed onto the tracks at a busy subway station in the city. She survived by sheltering under the platform’s edge.
With files from Molly Hayes.