An elderly woman is dead and a suspect is in custody after what police are describing as an “unprovoked attack” on a downtown Toronto sidewalk Friday morning.

The woman, believed to be in her 70s or 80s, was walking along a sidewalk at the northeast corner of Yonge and King streets at 11:40 a.m. when a suspect pushed her to the ground and fled the scene, police say.

The woman sustained significant injuries to her face and head and was ultimately pronounced dead.

Police say that a suspect, believed to be in his 30s, was arrested nearby on Richmond Street about one hour later.

He is expected to be charged with aggravated assault, though the charges could be upgraded pending the completion of an autopsy.

At this point homicide detectives have been made aware of the incident but have not taken over the investigation, according to police.

“The information we have is that she was pushed to the ground and she sustained serious injuries to her face and head area. But we can't confirm the cause of death at this point in time,” Acting Insp. Craig Young told reporters at the scene. “It's pending the results of the autopsy. There could be other aggravating factors that occurred during the interaction which may have contributed to the cause of death which may not directly be attributable to the suspect.”

Young said that information from witnesses as well as video footage reviewed by investigators suggests that the woman was “simply walking along the sidewalk” when she was attacked.

He said that officers conducted an “extensive and exhaustive search” of the area following the attack and were ultimately able to locate a suspect.

Young said that investigators are still looking to determine whether there was “any potential interaction that may have happened” prior to the assault and will be conducting a canvas for additional video footage.

He said that they will also be examining whether the suspect could be the same person who was being sought in connection with some property damage along University Avenue and Church Street earlier on Friday.

The suspect in those instances, he said, is alleged to have “caused some disturbance” and “minor damage” to buildings in the area. 

“The suspect description is close enough that we will obviously look at those investigations and see if they're related,” he said.


Latest in series of seemingly random violent incidents

Friday morning’s attack is just the latest seemingly random violent incident to take place in Toronto.

Last month a man stabbed two women on a subway train at High Park Station, killing one of them.

At the time police said that neither victim knew their attacker.

A few weeks later, a 59-year-old unhoused man was killed in an alleged “swarming” attack near University Avenue and Front Street.

Eight girls, who range in age from 13 to 16 years old, were each charged with second-degree murder in his death.

"This is extraordinarily tragic and it is just another tragic circumstance in a series of tragic circumstances. It pains me greatly this happens in our city," Young told reporters on Friday. "All I would say to the public sadly is to just be mindful of your surroundings and understand that these attacks do happen and be very, very careful.”

Mayor John Tory released a statement about the incident, which he said "has become far too common."

"This is a tragedy and my condolences are with the woman's family and loved ones," Tory said.

"While the facts of this specific case have not been determined and made public, we all know that we need to do everything we can to determine the root causes of such acts."