A 59-year-old man was stabbed in downtown Toronto on Saturday night by eight teenage girls, police said.
According to police, the girls, aged 13 to 16, met online before meeting in person on the night of the attack.
On Sunday night, just after midnight, they were arrested near the crime scene.
At the time of the assault, the man, who has not been named, was living in a homeless shelter.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call him homeless, but maybe just recently on some hard luck,” Toronto Police Detective Sergeant Terry Browne told reporters.
An altercation between the girls and the victim occurred in Toronto’s downtown core, an area known for its high-end condominiums and hotels.
According to police, the man may have been preyed upon because he was carrying alcohol.
The man died shortly after being rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries after bystanders flagged down emergency services. Police recovered several weapons, but have not disclosed which ones they found.
The eight teenagers “swarmed” the victim, according to police, adding that it was a prolonged “back and forth” attack.
“In fact, the incident lasted almost three minutes. They walked away, walked towards, walked away, walk towards,” said Detective Browne.
There was a mass shooting just hours before the attack in Vaughn, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. The sudden violence has unnerved some before the holidays.
Rather than calling the girls gang members, detective Browne said, the “anomaly” of this attack is that they all lived in different parts of the city and had never met each other before the attack.
There were three girls who had prior run-ins with law enforcement.
“There is no explanation for why or how they met in the evening,” he said.
A resident of a nearby homeless shelter told the CBC that she walked away from the group before the victim was stabbed in the stomach.
“When I walked away from the attackers and sought refuge in the shelter, I didn’t know whether they had knives or not. I was just scared,” the woman said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.
In addition to being jailed for Christmas, the suspects are scheduled to appear in court on 29 December. Under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, none of the suspects could be identified, but police said three of them are 13, three other are 14, and two are 16.
They have appealed to the public for further information, believing the girls may have engaged in other fights on Saturday evening.