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Police investigating three alleged assaults in Toronto’s gay village

Assaults allegedly took place in early January, all at the same intersection

Brandon Keir says he was attacked on Jan 4, 2017, after a verbal altercation with a group of men. Toronto police say they’ve received two more calls about alleged assaults by a group of men with a similar description. Credit: Courtesy Brandon Keir

Toronto police are investigating three alleged early-morning assaults in the Church-Wellesley Village from earlier this month. All three alleged assaults took place at the intersection of Church and Maitland Streets.

Brandon Keir told Xtra that he was attacked by two men at around 2am on Jan 4, 2017, after he and two friends left Flash, a Church Street nightclub. 

Two days later, police say they received calls about two separate assaults in the area. Constable Matthew Scarlino, who is in charge of the investigation, told Xtra by email that both callers gave “a vague but similar description” of the group involved on Jan 4.

Allyson Douglas-Cook, a Toronto police spokesperson, said in an email that the early-morning attacks on Jan 6 both appeared to be unprovoked. According to Douglas-Cook, the alleged victim’s injuries were not serious in nature, and paramedics were called but the victims did not need to go to the hospital.

Toronto police are considering the possibility that all three assaults were carried out by the same group of people. Scarlino says that the police have not been able to find any video of the alleged perpetrators.

January 4th incident

“They were clearly looking to beat up someone,” Keir says of his alleged interaction with the group on Jan 4.

Keir, who was dressed in drag at the time, says that he was followed and hit by two men after a verbal altercation.

Codey Margeson and Chelsea Dowie, who left the club with Keir, say they were walking towards Church and Maitland Streets when a group of men heckled Keir.

“I can’t remember specifically what they were saying, but they were trying to instigate something,” Dowie says. “And Brandon said, not even that loudly, ‘whatever, bitches.’”

Dowie says that the men then started screaming at Keir while following them down Maitland Street. 

According to the three of them, the group of men cornered Keir in front of an apartment building.

“I went up to the step, and then I turned around and they were in front of me, hitting me,” Keir alleges.

“I knew that it was just going to get worse, so I jumped in front of Brandon,”  Dowie says. “And I’m unfortunately only five-foot-four, and they were able to reach over me and they punched him in the face.”

Dowie called the police, and says that one of the men threatened them before running off.

“At one point, the leader said to us, as they were leaving, ‘we’re going to be back next week to finish you,’” she says.

Keir, who had moved to the Village the day before the attack, walked away from the incident with a black eye and cuts on his face.

“I’m kind of glad it happened to me and not someone else by themselves because it could have gone a lot worse,” he says.

Other men told Xtra that they were heckled by a similar group while dressed in drag that night.

Matt Coccia says that he and his boyfriend were saying goodbye to friends near Church and Alexander Streets when a group of men started yelling “fish” at him.

“And I thought nothing of it, and then they started yelling more things,” he says. “Like ‘you’re going to go home and fuck that faggot.’”

Ryan Boa says that he was walking north on Church Street a little bit before 2am when a group of men began to heckle him, yelling “hey girl” and “hey baby,” and even chased him after he got into a cab.

Scarlino says the group is not suspected in connection with any other incident since. While no arrests have been made, the incidents are still under investigation.