Toronto police are seeking the public’s help identifying a suspect wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting five women just south of the York University campus in North York.
Police said the first incident happened on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the area of Murray Ross Parkway and Sentinel Road.
Authorities said a 20-year-old woman was walking home when she was grabbed from behind and sexually assaulted. The victim was able to fight off her attacker and escape.
The second incident happened on Oct. 31 at 8:20 p.m. in the area of Cook and Sentinel roads.
Police said a 22-year-old woman was walking in the vicinity when she was approached from behind, grabbed and sexually assaulted. She was also able to break free.
VIDEO: Toronto police releases video and description of suspect in serial sexual assault investigation
The third incident took place on Dec. 19 at 9:30 p.m. along a path on the north side of Finch Avenue West approaching Fountainhead Park.
Police said a 22-year-old woman was approached from behind by a man who held a knife to her throat, threatened her and was subsequently sexually assaulted.
The fourth incident took place on Dec. 20 at 9:10 p.m. on Four Winds Drive and Sentienl Road.
Police said a 30-year-old woman was walking home from Finch West subway station when she was approached by the suspect, knocked to the ground and forced into a secluded pathway where she was sexually assaulted.
VIDEO: Sexual assaults linked to same suspect ‘escalating in violence’, police say
Just 15 minutes later, a 20-year-old woman was on Four Winds Drive when she was followed from behind and threatened with a knife. Police said the suspect sexually assaulted her and stole her cellphone.
Authorities said the same suspect committed a robbery on Dec. 10 near 455 Sentinel Road. Police said the suspect approached a female victim on a park bench, engaged in a conversation and then left. He later returned and grabbed the woman from behind and made off with her purse.
“From the beginning to yesterday’s incidents, they have escalated in violence,” Insp. Domenic Sinopoli told reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon.
“There’s several things that leads us to believe it’s the same suspect. The area, the time, the description. The victimology are all consistent with this being the same individual.”
VIDEO: Five sexual assaults in Toronto area linked to same suspect: Police
The suspect is described as black, 20 to 25 years old, 5’9″ to 5’10” with a slim build. He was wearing a light-coloured shirt, a dark bomber jacket, dark tight pants and a dark grey toque.
Police are reminding the public to be vigilant in the area.
“We don’t want people to walk away from this thinking that if they’re outside of this area nothing is going to happen to them,” Sinopoli said.
“We want women, citizens to be vigilant, to be aware of their surroundings and to be careful when they are walking around with headphones on because they may not hear people approaching from behind.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS.