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Police arrest, charge suspect in three alleged feces assaults
Published Wednesday, November 27, 2019 7:38AM EST
A Toronto police cruiser is seen in this file image.
Toronto police say they have charged a suspect who is accused of throwing buckets of feces at five people in three separate attacks.
Investigators say a man was arrested Tuesday night in the downtown area.
Samuel Opoku of Toronto is charged with five counts of assault with a weapon and five counts of mischief interfere with property.
The 23-year-old is to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police allege a man threw liquefied fecal matter on a woman and a young person on Friday at the John P. Robarts Research Library, on a man and a woman at the Scott Library on Sunday and at a woman on Monday.
Police have said the attacks appeared to be random.
"It's so bizarre," Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said earlier Tuesday in a phone interview.
"You can imagine the questions, and we're just as confused as everyone -- and just as determined to try to put an end to this. Because it's just absolutely horrible and disgusting and confusing."
Douglas-Cook said the most recent attack took place just before midnight Monday at a major intersection in the city's downtown core.
She said a man in a yellow construction hat and dark blue jacket allegedly walked up to a woman and poured a bucket of liquefied fecal matter over her before running away.
The alleged assault closely mirrored two previous attacks that unfolded on separate university campuses.
She said investigators have not been able to pick up on a pattern among the alleged victims, noting they do not appear to have any connection to each other and did not recognize the suspect.
"I'm not seeing any consistency with any one group being targeted, and that includes gender or race or anything at this point," Douglas-Cook said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the alleged assaults "inexplicable" and urged the public to co-operate in helping police close the case.
"I just hope that people support the police in trying to track this person down," Tory said at a press conference. "This is a person, to me, who has some very serious issues."
The recurring incidents garnered a great deal of attention on social media from Toronto residents disgusted by the prospect of crossing paths with the suspect.
But Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infections diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital, said the public's understandable concern need not be complicated by concerns for their health.
He said that while fecal matter teems with bacteria, the human immune system is well-equipped to neutralize any contact with the substance -- regardless of its source.
"Once in a while a pathogen can slip past the goalie and cause an infection, but certainly if someone had an exposure like this the risk is still very, very low," he said.
Douglas-Cook said officers recovered the bucket used during the most recent incident and have turned it over to forensic investigators.