‘Why did she do it to me?’: Victim of Toronto streetcar stabbing speaks out

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Woman attacked on Toronto streetcar speaks out
WATCH: Woman attacked on Toronto streetcar speaks out – Jan 27, 2023

Sitting in a sparsely furnished apartment in downtown Toronto she shares with her boyfriend and two other friends, the 23-year-old victim of an unprovoked stabbing on a TTC streetcar recalled the terror she felt on Tuesday afternoon when she was attacked by woman, a stranger she had never met.

Traumatized and worried that her assailant might come looking for her upon her release from jail, Global News has agreed to conceal the woman’s identity upon her request.

“The question still arises to me. It’s still in my mind. Why? Why did she do it to me? I didn’t even look at her. I didn’t do anything to her. I was just sitting minding my own business,” she told Global News in a soft voice, her boyfriend sitting by her side.

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The first-year architecture student at the University of Toronto said she came to Canada from India in 2018, but only moved to the Greater Toronto Area last September from Prince Edward Island. She had finally received her permanent residency, allowing her to afford the tuition at U of T and start the four-year program, which she called her dream.

On Tuesday around 2 p.m., while riding the southbound streetcar down Spadina Avenue, she said a woman who was sitting across from her suddenly came at her with a knife.

“I was not even looking at her. I might have glanced at her. I was watching another passenger doing crochet.”

The victim said she didn’t see her assailant take out the knife. “I just remember she was coming at me. I tried to run and I fell down on the side,” she said, explaining she had fallen to the ground. She said the stranger then sat on her lap and starting stabbing her head.

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The woman has multiple staples and stitches on her head along with two defensive wounds on her wrist and finger. She believes she was stabbed six or seven times.

The University of Toronto student said she began screaming and shouting for help and described the knife as a folding one. She said it ended when two men pulled the knife-wielding woman off of her and laid her on the ground before police arrived.

“I remember looking at myself in the TTC mirror, in the reflection of the mirror, and I was bleeding, my entire face was blood.”

She said was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital but was feeling very scared immediately after the attack. “I was not even allowing the paramedic people to come close to me. I didn’t feel safe at all.” She said spend about an hour and a half in an operating room and a night in hospital and is now on painkillers.

While she believes she will recover physically, she is traumatized and unable to leave her home.

“When I was getting discharged from hospital, the doctor asked, do I want to go home? But I don’t have any answer,” she said, explaining she is afraid to be around strangers but prior to the attack was a very social person.

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“I was not able to comprehend why somebody’s attacking me. For that second, I was thinking ‘is this actually happening to me?'”

The suspect, Leah Valdez, 43, who was arrested at the scene Tuesday, remains in custody. She’s been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, carrying a concealed weapon, possessing weapons dangerous to public place and possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon knowing its possession is unauthorized. Valdez is scheduled to return to court Monday.

The stabbing victim said she’s spoken to officials and the University of Toronto and told them for now she cannot return to class. She says it’s also unlikely she will ride the TTC again.

“I really want to finish my studies and finally have my dream come true but I don’t know if I feel safe. I’m scared of people.”

The victim said she has a younger brother, who was planning to move to Canada to study as well, but now will not be coming.

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