Man charged after Toronto mosque worshippers assaulted, taxi driver and woman wearing hijab sprayed with foreign substance

Man charged after Toronto mosque worshippers assaulted, taxi driver and woman wearing hijab sprayed with foreign substance

A 28-year-old man is facing more than a dozen charges in connection with three suspected hate incidents in Toronto that saw a taxi driver, as well as a woman wearing a hijab sprayed with a foreign substance and worshippers at a Toronto mosque, attacked with a rock and bike chain, police say.

On Saturday, Toronto police announced the arrest in the three hate-motivated incidents, with the most recent one occurring early this morning at Toronto Islamic Centre near Yonge Street and Davenport Road.

Police said the suspect approached the mosque and allegedly became confrontational towards congregants standing outside.

He allegedly threw a rock at them and yelled derogatory slurs.

“The suspect then became assaultive with a bike chain towards the victim,” police allege.

One victim suffered minor injuries, police said. In an earlier statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims provided more details about what happened in the mosque.

The organization reported that the alleged attacker also tried to smash through the windows and kick and strike worshippers. According to the NCCM, the attacker also uttered a number of Islamophobic slurs and threats, including about Muslim terrorists, “how he was there to ‘finish the job’ and how he was Israeli.”

NCCM spokesperson Uthman Quick said worshippers confronted the suspect, and police were able to arrest him shortly.

“Anytime an incident like this happens in a place of worship, when somebody, especially that early in the morning, is simply coming here to pray in a place of peace and in an attack like that happens, of course, they are shaken up,” Quick said.

Despite what happened, he said that worshippers remained resilient, and activities at the mosque continued.

“This needs to stop. On Thursday, there were threats to another mosque here in Ontario. We had feces being spread across the doors of another mosque in Ottawa. And now this has escalated into actual violence,” Quick said.

“Enough is enough.”

Police identified the suspect as 28-year-old Chandler Marshall of Toronto. He has been charged with the following:

four counts of assault with a weapon

two counts of assault

two counts of carrying a concealed weapon

two counts of mischief under

two counts of administering a noxious substance

two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon

two counts of weapons dangerous

one count of uttering threats

Police said the charges are also connected to two other incidents that occurred on Wednesday.

Shortly before 4:30 a.m., a taxi driver was in the area of Front and Yonge streets when he rolled down his window to ask a man if he needed a ride.

The man, who police say they believe was the same person involved in Saturday’s incident, allegedly replied, asking the driver if he was Muslim. He allegedly then sprayed the driver in the face with an unknown substance and fled.

More than three hours later, a woman wearing a hijab was walking on a pedestrian path near Fort York Boulevard and Spadina Avenue when a person thought to be the same man approached her.

He allegedly made derogatory statements to the victim before spraying her in the face with an unknown substance.

The man then fled, the victim reported. Meanwhile, the woman was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police said the suspect is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Speaking to CTV News Toronto after the incident, the taxi driver recounted the man saying “F-words” as he was sprayed with the substance that he said caused a burning sensation in his eyes.

The driver’s sister-in-law said she felt frustrated by what happened.

“It makes me feel sad that in such a progressive country, instead of moving forward, we’re kind of moving back with stuff like this, just because of his religion, he was attacked, and I don’t think that’s fair,” she told CTV News Toronto.

“Hate crimes do happen in Canada, despite being a multicultural country and city that we live in, stuff like this happens every day.”

According to the most recent update from Toronto police, between Oct. 7 and 25, they responded to 20 suspected hate-motivated incidents (15 antisemitic and five Islamophobic). That’s compared to the seven reported hate incidents during the same period in 2022.

In York Region, police are also seeing a spike in hate incidents. Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7, York Regional Police said they logged 90 hate crime reports, up from 32 last year for an increase of 181 per cent.

– with files from CTV Toronto’s Rahim Ladhani and Alex Arsencyh

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