Police release video of assault on woman in downtown parking garage
Rachael D'Amore, CP24.com
Published Thursday, November 23, 2017 8:21AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 23, 2017 8:33AM EST
Security camera video taken from a downtown Toronto parking garage shows a woman being ambushed by a suspect who tried to steal her purse.
Police said a 50-year-old woman was walking through a private parking garage in the Bay and College streets area at around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 when she was jumped from behind by a man who sprayed her with an unknown substance.
The newly released video shows the suspect lunging at the victim’s bag, throwing her to the ground when she resisted. The woman held onto her purse while she continued to struggle with the suspect from the ground.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told CTV News Toronto that she “felt” that someone was behind her as she walked into the parking garage but didn’t think much of it.
When the man suddenly lunged at her, she said a “fight or flight” reaction kicked in.
“At the time, I wasn’t really thinking. I was probably feeling that, deep down, if I let him take everything from me and become a victim, I’d probably feel worse,” she said “I didn’t lose control... It was just a reaction. It’s probably deeply engrained in you psychologically that you won’t just let people step over you.”
Eventually, the suspect can be seen dragging the woman by her purse down the parking garage ramp.
“He started punching and physically assaulting me and then he dragged me towards the door which automatically opened,” she said. “I was screaming so loud, so it drew some attention.”
Police say a passersby heard the woman screaming for help and were able to intervene, prompting the suspect to take off.
“Fortunately he was not able to get the purse,” Toronto police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said. “And fortunately she did not sustain a serious amount of injuries.”
She suffered bruising and a black eye and was looked over by paramedics at the scene.
In hindsight, the woman said her passivity about the man behind her was “a little naïve” but feels somewhat proud of her ability to fend off her attacker.
“I’m a small person, so when I was looking at the photos and saw that he’s literally twice my size… I surprised myself,” she said. “(I didn’t think) that I could hold onto that purse so strongly.”
On Thursday, police made the video public in hopes of sparking new leads on the suspect and his whereabouts.
The suspect is described as a man with brown skin who is between 35 and 45 years old. He was last seen wearing a brown jacket and beige pants.
The woman, who has worked downtown for more than seven years, said she now carries a “personal alarm” with her at all times.
She urged people – particularly women – to “stay vigilant” and avoid distractions when walking alone.
“I see a lot of women walking on the street looking at the cellphones… that’s being distracted. You’re not paying attention to your surroundings,” she said. “I’m a very trusting person. I’ve never thought people could be that bad because it’s never happened to me but obviously it can happen. It’s a side effect of all the big cities.”