4 min

Gay man murdered in downtown Toronto

Police release security video and more details

MURDER WEAPON? Police released this image captured from CCTV of the SUV suspected in the murder of Chris Skinner. Credit: Toronto Police Service

Did you see the attack against Chris Skinner? Your part of the story is critical. Please contact Xtra.

UPDATE 25 OCT 11pm – An estimated 1,000 people gathered at Church and Wellesley Sts to hold a vigil and march for Chris Skinner. Read more and check out our photo gallery above .

UPDATE 24 OCT 12 pm – Toronto police have released new video this morning of the moments before the attack against Chris Skinner.

Check it out here. 
UPDATE 23 OCT 1 pm –
A candlelight vigil has been planned for Sun, Oct 25, 8pm at Church & Wellesley. See the Facebook Event for details.

UPDATE 22 OCT 5 pm – Police released more details of their investigation into the Oct 18 slaying of 27-year-old gay man Chris Skinner.

Skinner was walking home on Adelaide St from a birthday party for his sister in the Entertainment district when he was “assaulted by between two and four males,” det Stacey Gallant, the lead investigator on the case said in an Oct 22 press conference.

“He was beaten to the ground and kicked when he was on the ground,” before the attackers returned to their black SUV. Once in the car, they “ran over Mr Skinner with both the front and rear tires. They accelerated the car away from the scene and continued to go east on Adelaide St.”

Several eyewitnesses have come forward to police and provided detailed accounts of the incident. Police believe the driver deliberately ran over Skinner.

The driver of the SUV is described as “male with light skin, short hair in a military style, wearing a tight black tank top, similar to an undershirt.”

The make, model, and licence number of the SUV are still unknown, but it is described as black with a light coloured tan or grey interior and having high-intensity headlights. Video of the SUV approaching the crime scene was shown at the press conference.

Police continue to search through security videos culled from their own CCTV cameras in the Entertainment District and from other businesses along Adelaide as far east as the DVP. They say they captured images of both Skinner and the SUV minutes before the attack began.

Gallant also told reporters that police are not treating the murder as a hate crime.

“We have explored that possibility and we don’t have any evidence to corroborate that,” he says. “As the investigation goes forward, if that comes up again we will investigate that,” suggesting that the fight could also have started as a traffic dispute.

“There was a lot of construction on Adelaide. [Skinner] may have been walking in the roadway and bumped into the car and they may have taken offence to that,” Gallant said.

Gallant appealed to any other witnesses to come forward, noting that video evidence suggests that a number of taxi drivers may have seen the attack against Skinner as they drove past.

He also appealed to anyone involved in the crime to turn themselves in to police.

“We know there were at least one, two, or three people in the car with him. If it was [the driver’s] decision alone to run over Skinner, then it’s all going to fall on him. If the others in the car had some influence over that, then they are just as culpable as he is. They are all culpable for the assault that happened outside of the vehicle,” Gallant said.

Skinner’s funeral was today at a private ceremony in Uxbridge, his hometown.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Stacy Gallant at 416−808−7410 and Detective Doug Dunstan at 416−808−7406, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−8477 or online at And Xtra

UPDATE 20 OCT 8am – Ryan Cooke didn’t know that his fiancé had been brutally murdered seven hours earlier when he posted on his Facebook page: “HEY…does anyone know where Chris is?” at 10:04am on Sun Oct 18.

Cooke had lost his phone and no one could reach him. Police had been called to the corner of Adelaide St E and Victoria St at 3:05am by several eyewitnesses who had seen Cooke’s fiancé Chris Skinner attacked by a group of men who beat him to the ground then ran over him with an SUV. Skinner was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.

Skinner is the 43rd homicide of 2009 in the city of Toronto. Hours earlier, Skinner and Cooke had been celebrating Skinner’s sister’s birthday in the entertainment district. Skinner decided to leave the party and walk home alone. Details of the attack are being kept under wraps as the police investigation continues, but it is known that Skinner got into an altercation with the occupants of a black SUV before he was beaten, and that after running him over the attackers fled east on Adelaide in their SUV.

The number of attackers has not been confirmed, but it is believed there were at least two and possibly three or four. The make and model of the SUV and its licence plate number were not yet known, but police will be combing over surveillance video from the area to see if it can be determined.

Friends of Skinner suspect that the killing may have been a hate crime, but police haven’t drawn that conclusion.

“No, there’s not at all any indication that there were homophobic elements to the attack,” says Det Stacey Gallant.

But that doesn’t sit well with Skinner’s friends who are struggling to find a motive for the murder.

“Not a single person who knows him would say that he would cause a ruckus,” says Skinner’s long-time friend Craig Lund, “but he would stand up for himself if he was called on anything. I find that Toronto Police very rarely jump to the conclusion that homophobia exists.”

Skinner, 27, lived with Cooke and they planned to get married next summer. He worked as a graphic designer at Endeavour Marketing. Cooke could not be reached for comment at press time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Stacy Gallant at 416−808−7410 and Detective Doug Dunstan at 416−808−7406, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−8477 or online at And Xtra 

OCT 19 Staff – The Toronto Police Service reports that 27-year-old Chris Skinner was killed in the early morning hours of Oct 18.

Police were called to the Adelaide St E and Victoria St area at 3 am to investigate a report of an injured pedestrian.

Police said in a press release that an altercation took place between Skinner and the occupants of a black SUV. Skinner was knocked to the ground. The attackers then returned to their vehicle and ran Skinner over with it.

Police say the SUV fled eastbound on Adelaide St. Skinner was taken to hospital where he died.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477 and Xtra.

Xtra will update as information becomes available.