‘Just a terrible, terrible tragedy’: Politicians speak out following fatal stabbing of 16-year-old at Keele Station
Published Monday, March 27, 2023 1:09PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 27, 2023 5:14PM EDT
Politicians and advocacy groups are speaking out following the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy at Keele Station on Saturday.
The teenager, identified as Gabriel Magalhaes, was sitting on a bench in the lower level of the subway station when he was allegedly approached and stabbed multiple times in what police have described as an “unprovoked” attack.
Magalhaes suffered life-threatening injuries and later died in hospital. A suspect, identified as 22-year-old Jordan O’Brien-Tolbin, was arrested that night and charged with first-degree murder.
In a letter to students and parents on Monday, Etobicoke Collegiate Institute principal Jennifer Kurtz said Gabriel was a kind student who enjoyed school and his death is a "tragic loss." Kurtz called the incident "unexpected and very difficult."
Violent incidents on the TTC have increased by over 60 per cent since 2019, according to data released by the transit commission in February. Saturday’s stabbing is the latest in a string of high-profile incidents on Toronto’s public transit system, which in January prompted the addition of 80 Toronto police officers to various TTC locations. The additional shifts, however, came to an end on March 13.
In a Monday morning tweet, Premier Doug Ford shared condolences for the Magalhaes family, calling the incident a “senseless and unprovoked murder that cannot be tolerated.”
My heart breaks for the family and friends mourning the loss of Gabriel Magalhaes. A son and brother, his life ended far too soon.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 27, 2023
This was a senseless and unprovoked murder that cannot be tolerated. Everyone in Toronto and Ontario deserves to feel safe in their community.
“It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy,” city councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) told CP24.
“There’s been a number of wake-up calls for the TTC, and I don’t think they’ve had a wake-up yet,” she continued. “[People] should feel unnerved riding the TTC….people are afraid.”
Fletcher noted that one of the TTC’s most concerning deficiencies is in preventative operations, or staffing and maintenance practices which can deter crime before it happens, rather than punishing it after the fact.
“This is a tragedy by any definition,” Stuart Green, senior communications specialist for the TTC, told CP24 on Monday morning.
“We’ve seen a general downward trend in the number of serious incidents, and we move hundreds of millions of people a year without incident, but we absolutely understand that on days like today, people are feeling a little nervous, a little on-edge. We get that.”
Green reiterated the transit agency’s commitment to lessening violence through measures like increased policing.
“We’re making our best effort, and we take this extremely seriously,” he said.
Union says violence underscores need for funding
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents TTC operators and maintenance workers, shared a press release Monday morning, expressing dismay at the increased violence on Toronto’s transit system.
“Any loss of life on public transit has a lasting impact on families and communities of those directly involved, as well as on transit riders and transit workers,” said the statement.
“With the upcoming election, Toronto needs a mayor who understands allocating funds to public transit is not a cost, it is an investment – an investment in transit safety, maintaining dependable service, and state of good repair.”
This child was simply sitting there.— Mark Saunders (@marksaunders_TO) March 27, 2023
Everything is connected to public safety, especially and foundationally – how we deal with mental health. A murder like this – the randomness of it –speaks to a massive deficit in how we manage the mental health needs of people in Toronto… pic.twitter.com/eZMp2du48A
There have been at least four homicides on or directly outside TTC property over the last year.
In December two women were stabbed by a stranger at High Park Station, one of whom later died of her injuries.
Another woman was set on fire on a TTC bus outside Kipling Station in June, later dying of her injuries. Police said at the time that there was no known relationship between the woman and her attacker.
In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, former police chief and current mayoral candidate Mark Saunders said that he is concerned thatToronto “is starting to normalize crime and disorder.”
“This isn’t about just adding more police,” said Saunders’ statement. “Yes, police absolutely play a critical role; but if we don’t start to really get at the root of the crime; it’s going to continue to be Band-Aid solutions.”
With files from The Canadian Press