Police find decades-old human remains near campus

Bones were from a medical specimen used in a study

Police find decades-old human remains near campus

Around 3:00 pm on January 22, human remains were found buried beneath a home on Brunswick Street, south of Dupont Street. After consulting a forensic anthropologist, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) announced Friday afternoon that the bones were part of a specimen that had been used in a medical study.

The contractors who made the discovery were involved in renovating the private residence, and were excavating the grounds. At the time the remains were found, police were unsure whether they were the result of a crime, archaeological, or due to some kind of misfortune. An investigation was launched to “determine [the] circumstances of [the] death.”

All that was known up until recently was that the bones were decades old and buried under a property which is reportedly 140 years old. The home was cordoned off to protect the scene and two special constables were posted to guard the area.

After determining that the bones were indeed human, a forensic identification officer from TPS and a forensic anthropologist from the Office of the Chief Coroner were called in for further analysis. TPS ultimately ruled that the remains are “not associated to [a] missing person or homicide” case.

The investigation is now closed following the conclusion that the remains were part of a medical specimen dating back to the 1940s.

Man dead following multiple stabbings at Madison Avenue house party

Police charge one man with second degree murder, minor with multiple counts of assault with a weapon

Man dead following multiple stabbings at  Madison Avenue house party

On October 31, a total of five people were stabbed outside a Halloween house party near the intersection of Madison Avenue and Bloor Street West. One of the victims, 19-year-old Firdous Nabizada, died in hospital on November 2.

According to police, 19-year-old Jacob Alves was disarmed and kicked out of a house party at 22 Madison Avenue by party-goers after he became involved in an altercation and produced a knife. He then attempted to re-enter the party and, upon denial, became angered.

While individuals attempted to calm him down, he produced another knife and began indiscriminately attacking individuals waiting in the line for entry outside the house.

Alves and a 15-year-old girl were initially both charged with three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and attempted murder. Following the death of Nabizada, Alves’ charges were upgraded to second-degree murder.

According to its website, 22 Madison Avenue is the location of Theta Delta Chi fraternity.

The Toronto Star reports that the house was being rented out by a Toronto model, Christian Renaud, for his 20th birthday party. Renaud said that he and Alves had been friends in high school at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, but had drifted apart since then.

With files from Josie Kao

Paramedics confirm death at Bahen Centre

Emergency services evacuated building

Paramedics confirm death at Bahen Centre

Content warning: article may be triggering to some.

At 6:26 pm today, Toronto Paramedic Services received a call from the Bahen Centre for Information Technology, where paramedics confirmed a death at the scene. Emergency services were dispatched to St. George Street, where police evacuated and cordoned off the building.

This is the third death in the Bahen Centre over the past two years.

In an email to The Varsity, the university also confirmed the death.

Vice-Provost Students Sandy Welsh wrote, “We mourn the loss of our student, and we are here to support our community.”

From 10:00 am to 4:00 pm today, counsellors and chaplains will be available to students seeking support. They will be located at the Koffler Student Services Centre, Room 111.

Editor’s Note (September 28, 1:34 pm): This article was updated to include comment from U of T.


If you or someone you know is in distress, you can call:

  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service phone available 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566
  • Good 2 Talk Student Helpline at 1-866-925-5454
  • Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600
  • Gerstein Centre Crisis Line at 416-929-5200
  • U of T Health & Wellness Centre at 416-978-8030.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you should talk to them, according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

 

7-Eleven at Bloor and Spadina robbed

Police say incident not of public interest

7-Eleven at Bloor and Spadina robbed

Police and emergency response personnel were called to the 7-Eleven at Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue this afternoon in response to an apparent robbery.

Police arrived at the scene at around 1:20 pm, blocking a portion of Spadina for investigation.

According to the Toronto Police Service, the incident is not of any public interest and police are still securing the scene.

There is no word on any possible suspects or people of interest. Details have not been released on possible weapons charges.

 

Men wanted for allegedly causing life-threatening injuries to 27-year-old man near the Madison Ave. Pub

Police release surveillance images of suspects

Men wanted for allegedly causing life-threatening injuries to 27-year-old man near the Madison Ave. Pub

A group of men are wanted by Toronto police after allegedly causing life-threatening injuries to a man near the Madison Avenue Pub by UTSG.

The incident occurred shortly after 2:00 am on September 23 when police say two groups of men got into an altercation over a spilled drink. Both groups were asked to leave, after which one group followed a 27-year-old man and his friends to a parking lot.

According to police, someone in the group stabbed the victim, while the others allegedly repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head. While the victim was lying on the ground, another man allegedly slammed a large boulder on him.

The victim was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police are investigating the incident as an attempted murder and have released surveillance images of the suspects.

PHOTO COURTESY of TORONTO POLICE

PHOTO COURTESY of TORONTO POLICE

PHOTO COURTESY of TORONTO POLICE

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5300 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Police searching for missing U of T student

Wenkun “Amy” Wu last seen in downtown Toronto

Police searching for missing U of T student

Update: She has been found.

Toronto Police are searching a missing UTSG student, Wenkun “Amy” Wu, 20, who was last seen on September 14 at 3:30 pm.

She is described as being five foot two inches with a thin build, long black hair, and brown eyes.

Wu was last seen wearing prescription glasses, a black shawl, purple shirt, grey tights, and black shoes.

PHOTO COURTESY of TORONTO POLICE

According to her Facebook profile, Wu is from Jiangmen, China and is studying Life Sciences.

Anyone with information is being asked to call Toronto Police at 416-808-5200.

To serve, protect, and empathize

Ontario’s new carding rules are a step in the right direction, but more can be done by both police and the public

To serve, protect, and empathize

Carding, a procedure also known as a “street check,” is a police action where — outside the domain of a formal arrest, detention, or execution of a search warrant — an officer stops a pedestrian and asks them to provide personal information, which is then stored in a database. Police use this technique to gain valuable information that can aid them in their duties, particularly when they are in the process of investigating gang activity or apprehending repeat offenders.

In recent years carding has become highly controversial, with some calling it an arbitrary violation of Charter rights that overwhelmingly targets minorities. Indeed, studies have shown that — often due to subconscious racial profiling on the part of officers — black and Indigenous citizens are disproportionately represented in interactions with police.

The provincial government has acknowledged these issues, and on March 22 they  announced new regulations to ensure that the police balance their investigative duties with respect for citizens.

Beginning in 2017 police officers in Ontario will have to explain to individuals on the street why they have been stopped. They are legally bound to inform them of their rights: that they are free to leave at any time, and are under no obligation to answer any questions. Furthermore, the reason for the stop itself cannot be the person’s race, their incidental presence in a high-crime neighbourhood, or the fact that they have refused to answer questions or attempted to leave.

In order to ensure accountability, officers must also provide their name and badge number, as well as contact information for the Independent Police Review Director, in case a complaint is made. Finally, officers must submit all carding records to their police service within 30 days of their completion, in anticipation of review by the chief of police to ensure that the street checks have been conducted lawfully.

These updates are necessary for public concerns about carding to be addressed, and will reduce the likelihood of improper, racially motivated street checks in the future. It is clear, however, that police-community relations in our city remain tense. As I write this column, protests have been ongoing outside the Toronto Police Headquarters for over a week, following the announcement that no charges will be laid in the 2015 officer-involved shooting of Andrew Loku. An independent investigation determined that Loku, a 45-year-old Sudanese man with a history of mental illness (including an incident earlier that same day), had been advancing on two officers and ignored multiple demands to drop a hammer he was brandishing.

It is clear that changes to carding, which are intended to balance the value of the practice for police intelligence with respect for the rights of individual citizens, are an important part of the effort to strengthen the public’s trust in the police. They are, however, not enough. More changes can be made to ensure that the police are accountable to the public, in order to facilitate a more meaningful exchange and cooperation between police and communities, and in turn to protect citizens more effectively.

For starters, the functioning of the provincial Special Investigations Unit, which investigates all deaths, serious injury, and alleged sex crimes involving police officers, needs to become much more transparent.

When an investigation is concluded and no charges are laid — as in the case of Andrew Loku —  all evidence should be made public. If the SIU expects to convince Ontario residents that nearly all police shootings are justified, they should be able to explain exactly how and why, for each individual incident.

Furthermore, to respond to concerns about excessive police force, the Toronto Police Service should continue providing officers with options that complement lethal firearms, such as tasers and sock guns. They should also move forward with the acquisition of body cameras so that shootings, street checks, and other contentious incidents can be reviewed more thoroughly.

All of these changes should be pursued by police services in the name of transparency and responsibility to the public. That said, in the name of building trust, there are also actions that we, as Toronto residents, should take to solidify relationships between police and the community.

We should respect the rule of law and the individuals who enforce it. Police officers maintain the peace and order that make our democracy and high quality of life possible. Accordingly, it is wrong to assault, harass, or otherwise forcibly interfere with their duties, no matter how much we may disagree with the law being enforced, or the action being taken. We may express dissent in other ways, but in a system of government that provides for peaceful change, there is no cause that justifies a resort to violence — against civilians or police officers.

Additionally, we should try our best to imagine life in their shoes. Police officers regularly face dangerous, immensely challenging situations that many students on a quiet, ivy-walled university campus will likely never even encounter. The very least we can do is acknowledge this fact. Recently, in partnership with the Toronto Police College, local media participated in a simulation of a violent scenario that officers may engage with on the job, in what was no doubt a humbling experience. When it comes to analyzing police actions, maybe the rest of us would all benefit from a little humility as well.

None of this intends to downplay the real issues and criticisms targeted at the more questionable parts of police practices, nor to doubt that there are vital improvements to be made in law enforcement, just as there are in all facets of government, especially at the local level. But the way to achieve that change is to work with the police, not against them.

The mission statement of the Toronto Police Service reads, “We are dedicated to delivering police services, in partnership with our communities, to keep Toronto the best and safest place to be.” If we want Toronto to be at its best and its safest, we should see the police as partners, not enemies — and they should see us in the same way.

Emmett Choi is a fifth-year student at Victoria College studying philosophy and American studies. His column appears every three weeks.