While an investigation into a recent alleged homophobic attack on the Toronto Islands continues, police have charged a 24-year-old man with aggravated assault in connection with the case.
“I want to make it clear that while we have successfully charged someone for their alleged involvement in this assault, our investigation does not stop here,” Toronto Police 52 Division Det. Const. Lauren Hassard said in a brief statement Saturday afternoon while announcing the charges.
“This is a complex case and we still encourage witnesses to come forward.”
It was around 11:30 p.m. on June 5 when, according to a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, David Gomez was trying to head home from Hanlan’s Point.
While walking toward the ferry docks, officers said the victim and a friend “became involved in a disagreement with a group of people.” Investigators initially said they were looking for three suspects.
The GoFundMe campaign said Gomez and his friend “found themselves in danger” and were “outnumbered” by the group before members started “shouting and hurling homophobic slurs at them until things reached a boiling point which compelled the attackers to become violent, leaving David incapacitated and in need of serious medical attention.”
The crowdfunding drive, which its statement said was started to help Gomez with therapy, legal fees, school fees and any other medical bills, raised nearly $49,000. It said he was left unconscious and needed to be treated for a concussion and several broken bones.
In a Saturday afternoon update, it was announced Toronto resident Elijah McGibbon was arrested earlier in the day and was charged with aggravated assault. He was scheduled to make his first appearance in a Toronto court on July 26.
Global News attempted to ask more about the circumstances surrounding the aggravated assault change and if hate-related charges could potentially be laid in connection with the investigation. An aggravated assault charge typically indicates the alleged offence is more serious in nature.
However, Hassard or an alternative spokesperson for 52 Division was unavailable for further comment on Saturday. A media relations officer for the service added the hate crimes unit was consulted as part of the probe.
Meanwhile, Hassard and officers said in the statement despite details of the assault being widely shared through the media and on social media along with appeals for information, police haven’t received many tips — information they said is needed for the investigation.
The statement said investigators are particularly looking to speak with two women who were in the area close to where the incident happened.
Those with information are encouraged to message Hassard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Gomez was injured, Ottawa Redblacks lineman Chris Larsen was accused on social media of being connected with the incident — prompting him to be suspended from the CFL team. On Tuesday, Larsen and his lawyer, Calvin Berry, spoke with Global News. Berry said Larsen was cleared as a suspect in connection with the case.
Global News asked Toronto police multiple times, including on Saturday, about Larsen as it relates to the investigation. Officers would not confirm if Larsen was ever considered to be a suspect or specifically who else might or might not be charged, noting the probe is still ongoing.
— With files from Jessica Patton and Ryan Rocca