Toronto fitness club waits 40 minutes for police to respond to call for help

Click to play video: '40-minute for Toronto police response after fitness club clientele allegedly accosted' 40-minute for Toronto police response after fitness club clientele allegedly accosted
WATCH ABOVE: Several clients of a downtown Toronto fitness club were allegedly accosted by a stranger Friday morning, prompting management to phone police. The club says it took roughly 40 minutes before help arrived. Shallima Maharaj reports – Mar 2, 2018

Several patrons of a downtown Toronto fitness club were faced with an unusual situation early Friday, as they attempted to get their morning routine started.

A man first appeared outside the building that houses Elle Fitness and Social on King Street West. He eventually made his way inside the building, up the staircase and to the door of the women-only fitness studio.

“We didn’t want anyone coming in and just being alarmed or cornered by him,” explained Robyn Fitzpatrick, the studio manager.

“There were a couple of instances where he got into a couple girls’ faces. He physically tried to block the staircase,” she said.

Fitzpatrick said she got to the studio after 6 a.m. to open it up for morning classes. She placed one call to Toronto police at around 6:20 a.m., informing them of the man’s presence.

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Cellphone video shared with Global News shows Fitzpatrick and a trainer at the studio confronting him. They first apologize and inform him,”This is a women’s-only establishment.”

They ask him to leave repeatedly and inform him the police have already been called and are on their way. At first, he responded, “That’s OK,” and eventually tells them, “You have to come with me.”

Immediately, both women respond firmly, “No,” and slam the door shut.

According to Fitzpatrick, the man appeared distraught and was talking to himself. Eventually, she and a colleague went into the stairwell to personally escort clients to the studio, which is located at the very top.

“When he was standing here, for example, I stood in front of him so they [customers] could pass by,” said Fitzpatrick.

“I stood in front of him so he couldn’t do anything and I feel more capable because I’m aware of the situation and they’re just coming in and they don’t really know what they’re dealing with.”

In total, she says police were called three times and it took 40 minutes before help arrived. That came in the form of one apologetic officer, who said the delayed response was caused by a shift change, according to Fitzpatrick.

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Global News reached out to Toronto police for comment and received a phone call from spokesperson Mark Pugash on Friday afternoon. He stated that they were looking into what happened, but had no details readily available.

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack responded with a statement:

“While the TPA can’t confirm the details around this particular instance, these types of stories have become all too frequent. It appears response times are getting longer due to understaffing. Our members aren’t able to provide service as quickly as they would like.

We have been so inundated with stories like this that the TPA launched a collection tool on website.

If people who have waited too long for police to arrive share these stories, we are hoping that, together with our members, the public can influence municipal politicians, the mayor, the chief and the TPSB to act on our shared concerns for public safety.”

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