Transit rider recounts ‘completely unprovoked, random attack’ on the way to Toronto subway

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WATCH ABOVE: Terrifying moments for a TTC rider who says she was the victim of a random attack while she was heading to the subway this week. Caryn Lieberman reports – Aug 12, 2022

A Toronto transit user is recounting a frightening incident just steps away from Sheppard-Yonge subway station that police are actively investigating as an “assault.”

On Aug. 9, at around 5 p.m., police responded to a call in the Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue area.

It was reported that a woman was walking on a sidewalk towards the subway station when a man assaulted her as he walked by, punching her repeatedly in the face.

Ericka Gonzales told Global News she had just gotten off the escalator at the attached concourse when she noticed a man heading toward her.

“All of a sudden, he started running at full speed towards me and with both fists, he started punching me with full force on either side of my head,” she said.

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Gonzales said the man then pushed her down and she hit her head on the ground.

Read more: 4-year-old child found wandering on TTC tracks near Warden station

“Next thing I know, I see him running up … my friend who was with me at that time had helped me up and took me to the closest TTC attendant to get some help. EMS and the police were called right away,” she recalled.

The incident has left Gonzales feeling “traumatized.”

“I still can’t believe it happened. It was a completely unprovoked, random attack. I have no idea who this man was. I was just going about my day. And it’s something that — even if you’re a hyper-vigilant person who is self-aware of your surroundings at all times — it’s something that you wouldn’t expect to happen to you,” she said.

Gonzales said she is now recovering from injuries to her head and face.

“I’ve suffered some bruising around my head and especially on either side of my face by hitting my head on the concrete floor. I did suffer from a concussion that’s being monitored at the moment and body aches everywhere,” she said.

Read more: Man charged after 85-year-old woman assaulted at Toronto’s Kipling Station: police

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Toronto Police released security images of the suspect and described him as 25 to 30 years old, 5’8″-5’9″, with a medium build.

He was wearing a dark blue baseball hat, light blue surgical mask, dark green t-shirt, dark blue jeans, dark shoes, and was carrying a large black and grey duffle bag.

Police confirm “the man is not known to the woman.”

“I’m still processing the whole situation. It’s still really difficult to figure out why this could have happened,” said Gonzales.

She is calling for more safety measures in the wake of a number of recent violent, unprovoked attacks related to the subway system.

“I’m very fearful to be commuting going forward on the TTC, especially with the ongoing random attacks that have been happening in our city and unfortunately mostly targeting women,” she said. “Increased security is definitely needed, especially in high traffic areas like Yonge-Sheppard station.”

Read more: Police name woman lit on fire aboard Toronto bus, charge man with murder

Gonzales plans to avoid the TTC altogether for now.

For others, she shared this message.

“Just stay aware and be hyper-vigilant. Do whatever you can just to be safe out there, especially if you are commuting every single day in the TTC.”

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TTC spokesperson, Stuart Green, said in an emailed statement: “While this incident happened off TTC property, our great collector acted quickly when approached and got the victim help within minutes.”

“As always, if police need anything from us during their investigation into this awful incident, we will provide it,” Green said.

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