One person is in custody after a woman was set on fire while on a TTC bus Friday afternoon in what police are calling a “random attack.”
Police say they were originally called to Kipling Station, near Kipling Avenue and Dundas Street, around 12:30 p.m. after receiving a report of a man assaulting a woman nearby.
“The man was then alleged to have poured some type of liquid substance or an accelerant on this woman and then ignited that substance, causing a fire and causing the female victim to burn,” Toronto police Const. Alex Li said.
TTC employees, as well as citizens nearby, helped the victim and she was rushed to hospital by emergency run in critical condition related to the burns. The victim, who is a woman in her 20s, is suffering from second- and third-degree burns, police say.
A 35-year-old suspect has been taken into custody in connection with the incident.
There was an interaction between the man and the woman prior to the incident, Li said, and police believe this is an isolated incident.
“Preliminary investigations have led our investigators to believe that this was a random attack,” he said. “I can’t confirm what the relationship was between the man and the woman was or what was said prior to the accelerant being lit…but we want to again, just let the public know that this is an isolated incident on board that bus, we do have someone in custody and charges are pending.”
TTC CEO Rick Leary told CP24 Friday afternoon that the attack occurred on a bus and not at track level. Service on Line 2 between Kipling and Islington stations was suspended while police conducted their investigation.
I can tell you it was TTC employees who responded right there at the incident and were able to help police catch the suspect, he said.
In an earlier statement, Leary said he was “shocked” by the attack that took place at Kipling Station.
“Our thoughts are with the victim for a full recovery,” he said. “I know incidents like this are concerning for customers – and I share that concern.”
“Safety is paramount to all we do and I am committed to ensuring the TTC remains as safe as possible.”
Officers investigate a violent incident at Kipling Station on June 17, 2022. (Sean MacInnes/CTV News Toronto)
Leary went on to say that while the TTC provides transit to millions of customers every year without incident, they “cannot and do not take that for granted.”
He said that special constables are strategically patrolling the transit system to deter and respond to security incidents and the agency is working with Toronto police to increase their presence.
Back in April, police said they would be increasing their visibility on the TTC following several violent and disturbing incidents, including one instance in which a woman was pushed onto the tracks while a train was approaching.
She managed to roll under the lip of the platform to avoid the incoming train, suffering a broken rib.
The woman is suing the TTC for negligence, arguing the TTC did not “implement sufficient safety protocols on the subway platform.”
The TTC, for its part, is defending itself by saying the victim chose to stand close to the edge of a platform and failed to pay due care and attention to her surroundings.
Toronto police have reported several other instances of violence on the transit system since, including assaults, stabbings, and robberies. Leary said that in addition to ensuring there are cameras and emergency alarms in all stations and vehicles, the TTC is “actively recruiting new special constables” and is growing its partnership with Streets to Homes to assist people in crisis.
In a statement posted to social media, Toronto Mayor John Tory thanked the TTC employees and bystanders for “rushing to help the victim” along with special constables, police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
“We all pray for the woman attacked at Kipling Station. This is a shocking criminal act that shouldn’t happen anywhere in our city,” he said. “I have spoken to both TTC CEO Rick Leary and Police Chief James Ramer and both have assured me they are leaving no stone unturned in investigating this matter.”
Police say the suspect will likely be facing charges in connection with the incident, but did not say what those would be.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is being urged to contact police or reach out to Crime Stoppers anonymously.