‘Turn yourselves in,’ police tell suspects seen on video beating man with autism
Published Thursday, March 15, 2018 3:08PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, March 15, 2018 6:44PM EDT
WARNING: The video at the top of this story shows a brutal attack on a man. Some viewers may find the content disturbing.
Police in Peel Region say they’ve received numerous tips since releasing a video showing a “vicious assault” on a man with autism at the Square One bus terminal in Mississauga.
The video shows the 29-year-old victim sitting on a staircase inside the terminal, possibly putting on or taking off a pair of rollerblades, at around 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
While he adjusts his shoes, a group of three males walk down the stairs and attack him.
A suspect wearing a black T-shirt hurls the first punch, prompting the other two males to join in. Together they punch and kick the man, who tries to protect his face with his hands.
Peel Regional Police Const. Hardiner Sohi said the man required treatment at a local hospital.
“The victim did have to go to hospital that night. He suffered a broken nose, and has cuts to his face,” Sohi told CTV News Toronto on Thursday. “He is out of hospital now and at home. He’s got good support with his family and he is doing well, as much as can be expected at this point.”
Since releasing the video yesterday, Sohi said police have “lots of tips” but haven’t yet made any arrests.
He acknowledged that the footage may seem “shocking” to some, but said investigators felt it was important to make it public in hopes someone will recognize the three males.
“You can see from the video that he’s just sitting on the stairs minding his own business and all of a sudden you see three guys coming down and just brutally assault him,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate what happened here.”
The three suspects have been described by police as South Asian males who all stand about five-foot-ten.
The first suspect has a thin build, a dark short beard and straight black hair that sits “above the ears,” police say. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt with a red Air Jordan logo and white lettering with black track pants and black shoes.
The second suspect is described as being clean shaven with a thin build. He was wearing a black jacket with a grey horizontal stripe across the chest and a grey vertical stripe along the hood, as well as black track pants and black shoes.
The third suspect has a medium build and is unshaven, police say. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie with a Nike logo on the front and white lettering along the sleeves, along with black track pants and black shoes.
Police believe all three suspects fled the terminal on an escalator and later got into the same vehicle.
“Our investigators are pouring over the surveillance video from Square One. They noticed that the three suspects did get into a white vehicle. We’re trying to find out what type of vehicle it is and we’re hoping to release those images later on today,” Sohi said.
Dana Anderson, a volunteer and advocate with agencies for people living with autism, said she was “angry” when she saw the video. Anderson has an adult son who, like the victim, has autism.
"I know (like) my son, we want to encourage that independence and that ability to be independent within the community and at the same time, we're worried about those who take advantage of that," Anderson said. "It's too often that it occurs and that needs to stop."
The disturbing video has also caught the attention of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who both separately condemned the act on Twitter.
“I’m horrified by the disturbing video released by police of a vicious attack in Mississauga on a young man with autism,” Wynne tweeted on Thursday. “Such violence is not who we are in Ontario. We are a province where we value inclusion and everyone should be treated with respect.
Tory echoed those comments, urging witnesses to come forward.
“If you have any information, please help our next-door neighbours at Peel Regional Police find the three suspects from this vicious assault of an autistic man in Mississauga,” he tweeted.
When shown the video, shoppers at Square One on Thursday were shocked by the act, calling the suspects “cowards.”
“They need a lesson in kindness and respect,” said one person, who did not provide their name.
According to police, the victim is familiar with the bus terminal and likes to spend time there.
Though investigators aren’t sure what led up to the attack, Sohi encouraged the suspects to seek legal counsel.
“We just want to tell the suspects that, by now I’m sure they’ve seen the video themselves, the best thing for them to do now is go see a lawyer and turn themselves in,” he said.
Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to call Peel Regional Police or Crime Stoppers.