Canadian police have released the identity of a homeless man who was stabbed to death by a pack of teenage girls last month.
Ken Lee, 59, an immigrant from Hong Kong who was trying to find housing in Toronto, was beaten and stabbed by eight girls ranging in age from 13 to 16.
It is believed Lee was attacked while defending a friend of his who the girls were trying to steal a bottle of liquor from.
Each of the girls were arrested and charged with second degree murder, with Detective Sergeant Terry Browne of the Toronto Police calling the brutal murder ‘shocking’ and ‘disturbing.’
Ken Lee, 59, an immigrant from Hong Kong who was trying to find housing in Toronto, was beaten and stabbed by eight girls ranging in age from 13 to 16
The horrific stabbing occurred near where York Street, University Avenue and Front Street West meet at around 12:15 am on Sunday. It’s believed that the girls, who had met on social media earlier, were trying to steal the victim’s alcohol when they attacked him
Lee was pronounced dead upon arriving at a Toronto hospital after the vicious attack.
Authorities have been working to notify his next of kin about the tragedy, according to CBC News.
A vigil was held for Lee at the Toronto Homeless Memorial downtown. He was remembered by visitors as a quiet person and devoted friend.
‘Nobody was surprised that he would stick up for somebody like that,’ Sanctuary Toronto spokesperson and pastor Johnson Hatlem said of Lee.
Pictured: The homeless shelter where the victim was staying before he was knifed. Police believe that all eight teenage girls are ‘equally guilty’ in the dreadful street murder
Browne said Lee started living in Toronto’s shelter system in September.
‘He does have a very supportive family in the area so I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless. Maybe just recently on some hard luck,’ he said.
Roberto Sanchez, who often holds the door open at a nearby Tim Hortons, told CTV News ‘He was friendly. He was generous. He was a kind-hearted person. Everyone has their issues. But all in all, I didn’t see him as a threat to no one.’
‘For those youths to do that to him – it’s heart-wrenching. I can’t believe it.’
Detective-Sergeant Terry Browne said that the killing was ‘shocking.’ He revealed that a total of eight teenage girls had been charged with murder after the man, believed to be homeless, was stabbed to death on the streets of Toronto, Canada
One resident of the nearby Strathcona Hotel where Lee was staying told CTV News Toronto that the teenagers were drinking, and tried to steal Lee’s friends alcohol.
Lee was with a female friend in a plaza northwest of the intersection of University Avenue and York Street when he was attacked.
‘They were sitting on a bench, sipping booze out of a mickey and having a cigarette,’ said witness Ken Webber.
‘I saw the aftermath of the attack.’ The teens were ‘standing outside the Union Station stairwell there, arguing, screaming and yelling,’ he added.
A police source told The Toronto Sun the girls were ‘like wild animals’.
‘They’re all young offenders. They attacked this guy like a bunch of wild animals. He tried to fight them off and they just kept coming back,’ the source said. ‘He was just minding his own business, he wasn’t bothering a soul.’
Browne said the victim started living in Toronto’s shelter system in September. He said they haven’t been able to reach certain family members and until they do they won’t release his name
Browne said the crime even shocked the police.
‘I’ve been in policing for almost 35 years and you think you’ve seen it all,’ he said. ‘Anyone who isn’t shocked with hearing something like this has clearly just thrown in the towel and just said that anything is possible in this world.
‘Eight young girls and most under the age of 16. If this isn’t alarming and shocking to everyone, then we’re all in trouble quite frankly.’
Browne said the same girls got into an altercation earlier in the night in the area. He declined to release more details – but confirmed that they had put on social media.
The teens came from ‘varying parts of the city,’ according to the police.
‘We don’t know how or why they met on that evening and why the destination was downtown Toronto.’ Brown added. ‘We don’t know how long they were acquainted with each other. I wouldn’t describe them as a gang at this point.’
Mayor John Tory called the murder ‘unacceptable’, and said he was ‘extremely troubled’ by the young age of the accused girls.
‘While we are continuing to learn details of this murder, I am deeply disturbed by the allegations made public so far. Everyone in our city deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,’ he said.
‘I am so saddened to know that a man has lost his life in this way. Toronto Police have made several arrests in this case – I am extremely troubled by the young age of those accused and by the number of people allegedly involved in this murder.’
A witness said Kenney, who was named locally as the deceased, was sitting with a female friend in a plaza northwest of the intersection of University Avenue and York Street (above) when they were attacked
Browne said they took part in a ‘swarming.’ He declined to say if they videotaped it – and added that they are checking if similar attacks have been posted online.
‘Maybe these were eight young women who wanted to make a name for themselves and see if they could become socially famous. They are all equally guilty,’ he said.
‘There is no doubt in our minds that they were all working as a singular entity in a swarming mob mentality when they chose to attack this man.’
‘All eight were together. All eight were involved,’ he said. ‘I won’t say what each one individually did, but all eight were together and participating in this event, which is disturbing.’
He said a number of weapons were seized, but he declined to say what kind. He added that three of the girls had previous encounters with the police.
‘It’s bizarre that they would all have hooked up together and found their way to downtown Toronto. Their primary residences are all over the place. I can tell you it was a shock to find out that their children were involved in an event like this.’
Canadian authorities cannot release the girls’ names by law because they are underage.
Browne said they are asking anyone who saw the group of teenagers that night to contact the police.
He said 20 or 30 years ago in Toronto young teenage boys would swarm others and try to steal Dr. Martens boots or Air Jordan shoes, but the trend faded away.
‘Has this happened recently that we are not aware of? Have people been posting this stuff online that we weren’t aware of?’ he said.
‘It’s something that we are going to try to find out.’
Mohamed Ahmed, the co-executive director of the non-profit youth group Success Beyond Limits, said they’ve never seen teenage girls accused of such a crime.
‘When we see young people in difficult situations… it’s usually been bad, unfortunately,’ he told The Toronto Star.
If girls are involved in violence it is usually far more mild – ‘it’s not to the level of what I just read,’ he said.