OWEN SOUND, Ont. - The mayor of Owen Sound, Ont., says the savage beating and stabbing of a Toronto man earlier this week has "racial overtones."

Mayor Ruth Lovell says it would be "naive" to think racism didn't play a role in the Tuesday night attack, which police have said began as a case of mistaken identity.

Police say a female, who had been drinking, mistook the 42-year-old victim - who is black - for another man and began verbally and physically assaulting him.

The accosted man held the female in one arm while calling police on his cellphone with the other before the woman went to an apartment and summoned a group of men.

The victim was punched, kicked, struck with a two-by-four and stabbed in the chest at least once; police have described his injuries as "close to life-threatening."

Shawn Dyer, Cody Doherty and Blaine McEachern, all 19, are each charged with assault with a weapon and aggravated assault, while the 17-year-old female faces an assault charge.

Lovell says she hopes the incident won't leave local residents or tourists afraid to go downtown.