Police have released an image of a suspect believed to be responsible for sparking a fire at a North York hotel last week.
Emergency crews were called to the Radisson Hotel Toronto East at 55 Hallcrown Place, near Highway 401 and Victoria Park Avenue, at around 10:30 p.m. for reports of a fire.
Hotel staff evacuated the building while firefighters extinguished the blaze and contained the smoke.
No one was injured as a result.
Following an investigation, police determined that the fire was started intentionally on the third floor of the building. A can of gasoline had been lit on fire, they said.
Mario Calla, the executive director of COSTI, an organization that helps settle refugees in Canada, said he believes that asylum-seekers living inside the hotel were targeted by the arsonist.
“You know, what happened could have been a really horrific, horrific situation, in that we are talking about a can of gasoline that could have exploded and set the whole place on fire,” Calla said. “It’s very clear that the refugees are being targeted and being targeted by white supremacists, white nationalist groups.”
The Radisson Hotel has become the temporary home for a number of asylum-seekers who were previously being housed in dorm rooms at Centennial College and Humber College.
In August, as students returned to school, the City of Toronto relocated all refugee and asylum claimants to hotels or permanent housing in the Greater Toronto Area.
The hotel has since been the target of fake reviews, one saying that live goats were being slaughtered in the hotel’s bathrooms.
In a Youtube video referring to the hotel as a “refugee camp,” a group of people tour the halls of the hotel, making false claims about how the residents are living.
“If they’re treating a hotel like this, who’s to say how they are going to treat our country,” a woman said in the video. “They’ve got another thing coming,” she continued.
A resident of the hotel, who spoke with CTV News Toronto, said he feared for the safety of his family after hearing about the fire.
On Friday, police released an image taken from hotel security cameras of a suspect.
The suspect has been described as five-foot-six to five-foot-eight in height with a medium build. Police say they were last seen wearing a black hooded jacket, dark pants and blue running shoes.
Police say they are not categorizing the arson as a hate crime.
Anyone with who recognizes the person in the photos or has any information about the incident is being asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.