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Man tried to blow up friars’ house in downtown Toronto, police allege

In this file photo, RCMP cordon off a crime scene using police tape


A man is facing attempted murder charges after allegedly trying to blow up the home of four Dominican friars in Toronto.

Police say a man dispensed propane gas into a house near Huron Street and College Street early Monday morning. The man returned a second time and broke into the home by smashing a window shortly after 5 a.m.

Two of the friars were awakened by the sound of breaking glass and then detected the smell of propane. As they tried to determine the source of the odour, they came upon the man, who fled. They called police, who arrested the suspect less than a block away.

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"I think they're very lucky. This could have been very tragic," said Detective Wayne Fowler. "This could definitely have turned really bad really quick. When you look just in that neighbourhood alone – just outside the four residents being in there is bad enough – but these houses are very close together and being at that time of morning, people are still asleep. … If this thing had to ignite or explode, that could have had a drastic, devastating effect in the neighbourhood."

The suspect knew one of the friars but did not have a grudge against him, Det. Fowler said.

Dominican friars are an order of Roman Catholic preachers.

"I can say there's no straight-out, flat, straightforward motive at this point," he said.

The semi-detached house was ventilated and declared safe for occupancy.

Chanh-Sang Lay, a 53-year-old from Vaughan, is charged with four counts of attempted murder, several arson-related offences, possession of explosives and intending to cause an explosion.

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