A man accused in the “unprovoked,” fatal assault of an 89-year-old woman in downtown Toronto was wanted by police on an outstanding warrant stemming from an alleged assault in 2020, court documents show.
No further details are included in the documents, but a bench warrant for his arrest was issued in May 2021. That assault charge is still before the court.
Cunneen has now been charged with manslaughter in the death of an 89-year-old woman who was allegedly pushed to the ground and died of her injuries.
According to Toronto police, the woman was walking on a sidewalk near Yonge Street and King Street East, in Toronto’s financial district, just after 11:30 a.m. last Friday when the “unprovoked” attack occurred.
“She was pushed to the ground. She sustained serious injuries to her head and face area,” Toronto police Insp. Craig Young told reporters following the attack.
“She was just simply walking along the sidewalk.”
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Global News is not identifying the victim pending notification of next-of-kin by police.
The suspect fled the scene but was later arrested “without incident,” police said.
Prior to the deadly assault, the suspect is accused of throwing a brick through the window of a Subway restaurant in the Church Street and Front Street East area, according to court documents.
Cunneen was originally charged with aggravated assault but is now facing a charge of manslaughter, police said Tuesday. He’s also charged with mischief under $5,000.
Appearing in court Tuesday via video from jail, Cunneen was representing himself. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has called the incident an example of “what appears to be a random violent attack on an innocent person in our city.”
“While the facts of this specific case have not been determined and made public, we all know that we need to do everything we can to determine the root causes of such acts,” he said in a statement.
And while the mayor called on both the province and Ottawa to invest in more mental health and addictions treatments, the incident comes amid criticism of a nearly $50-million increase to Toronto’s police budget passed earlier this month.
Critics have said the money should go towards tackling issues like poverty, mental health and joblessness in underfunded community services.
Seven city councillors spoke out about the increase, saying investments in social services should be prioritized.
“Decades of research and evidence has shown that increasing police spending without simultaneous investments in social and community infrastructure does not make our communities safer,” the councillors said.
— with a file from Samira Balsara
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