By Paul Waldie, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The stabbing of a young man in a downtown Toronto station led to a frenzied, hours-long search for suspects in what police were calling an “unprovoked” attack.
Police said they were searching for two suspects, including a suspect who fled through a crowd of people after the attack late Saturday night.
Officers initially responded to reports of a man with a knife just before midnight Saturday in Toronto’s Union Station but initially found him inside the station with serious injuries. He was taken to hospital in critical condition before being upgraded to serious but stable condition early Sunday.
“There were several witnesses … at the scene,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Booker, who stressed the attack was unprovoked.
Police confirmed Sunday afternoon that a third suspect had also been detained but details of that individual’s alleged involvement weren’t released.
“We are still looking for a male suspect who came through the crowd of people, fled and entered a commercial building,” said Detective Sgt. Marty Charbonneau. “There are more officers on scene right now because it is business in session.”
“We are asking for the public’s assistance … this individual’s apprehension,” said Charbonneau.
Asked if there were any links to an ongoing investigation into a killing of a man at a different Toronto city station, Charbonneau said officers were “just checking everything out” at the time.
Police described the man as aboriginal, with a medium build and dark-coloured hair. He was wearing a black jacket with an insignia, light grey jeans and white sneakers.
Police are asking the public to call police if they see the man in a public place.
At Union Station on Sunday, all visitors were sent back to their terminal platforms while police searched for the suspects. People remained locked inside the station, emptying the platforms on stairwells, while police patrolled the area.
Earlier, several Ottawa-bound travellers were detained by officers and put in buses en route to Toronto’s Pearson airport, while others were asked to head back to the terminal they arrived at and those who had arrived from out of town were directed to meet their family members on the upper floors of the station.
Police said the station remained open and that the stabbing appeared to have happened in a section which receives subway cars and departures from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
When police had no word as to when they would be able to reopen the station or whether anyone who had been stopped on the street would be allowed to leave, commuters began streaming out of the station.
“We’re being told to exit the station,” said Gordon Bailiff, a traveller heading to Edmonton. “Every two minutes … we’re being pushed to the curb. It’s a massive city bus terminal and it just got very crowded.”
Passengers exiting the main level of the station, which is a major transit hub and a popular commuter station, said the station was swamped with police.
They said officers were coordinating with RCMP officers to ensure no attacks were taking place against or with unsuspecting travellers.
The incidents prompted a strong show of solidarity from passersby as they looked for a place to pause and pay their respects on Sunday morning.
“We’re leaving and we just heard about the attack, so we’re just trying to remember what we feel safe about in Canada,” said Wolesangh.
Parveen Mah, who was headed for Vancouver with her children, said there was no reason to stop her family from moving forward.
“I’m pretty sure … if it was the last thing in the world, the police wouldn’t have stopped us,” she said.
With files from Phil Borchmann, The Canadian Press