Rise in assaults has local residents on alert
Hillcrest community Facebook group reports multiple incidents in one week
A spike in assaults in the Hillcrest village neighbourhood on St. Clair Avenue West is leaving its residents on edge and worried for their safety. Especially concerning is that most of the victims are women, either unaccompanied or with children.
A man who goes by the name Daniel Alex on Facebook is a physician at Sunnybrook and Toronto General hospitals. He posted to a Hillcrest Facebook group in early October that his nanny and three-month-old son had been assaulted at the Loblaws near the corner of St. Clair West and Bathurst Street.
“A man, approximately in his 60s, pushed [the nanny] from behind and started yelling and swearing at her,” Alex wrote. He stated in the post that some bystanders had intervened, preventing the situation from escalating.
Multiple comparable posts were made, all in the span of a week, by other members of the community Facebook page. All the victims were women, or women with children, including one report of assault on a woman and her child in a stroller. The perpetrator in that incident was reportedly caught soon after it occurred.
In response, the local councillor, Joe Mihevc, said that politicians don’t have the authority to direct police — only the ability to inform them.
“We have to wait for the results of the investigation,” he said. “That’s why reporting incidents immediately, every time, is so important. Police need to assign resources, conduct their investigations and catch a culprit.”
The Toronto Police Service community response manager for that area, Sgt. Travers Wynne, told Post City that there has been an increased police presence in the area as a response to these reported incidents, but he added that the solution requires more than police attention.
“There has been increased visibility of police officers in that neighbourhood, but we still can’t afford to have that many patrolling units there 24/7,” he said.
Wynne also recognized that the police-community rapport in the village is mixed and that some citizens think they are better off without police help. However, he acknowledged the strength of the local community watch, both on the streets and on social media.
“I really appreciate what they’re doing on Facebook,” he said. “It helps them, and it helps us get the facts for our investigations.”
“A man in his 60s pushed her from behind and started yelling and swearing.”
Site of a recent assault at Bathurst and St. Clair