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posted on August 29, 2007

City News Story About Swarming Arrests

14 Teens Face 198 Charges In Park Swarming Robbery Ring

By: Staff
Published: Wednesday August 29, 2007

"These were cowardly acts of violence performed in a wolfpack style, on powerless, unsuspecting citizens of Toronto." That's how Det. Colin Greenaway describes the 14 teens allegedly involved in a series of park swarmings that held many residents of the west end in fear this summer.

Cops first heard about the attacks in July and issued a public warning earlier this month, after as many as 27 victims were violently beaten and robbed of anything they were carrying as they walked in the Bloor and Dufferin area. Most of the attacks took place in the evening in parks like Christie Pits. But some also happened in the subway, in bank ATM vestibules and even on the street. When police dispatched undercover officers to the green spaces where the majority of the offences occurred, they arrested a few members of what they're calling a new gang named the "Grown Man Business". And that's when the crime spree began to unravel.

But during its height, it was both vicious and brutal. "It didn't matter if they were male or female they were targeted," accuses Det. Leslie Hildred. "It didn't matter if they were compliant - they were assaulted." Some victims suffered broken bones, while others were severely beaten. The robbers took anything of value, including money, cell phones, MP3 players, even I.D.s. Most of the goods were found at local flea markets across Toronto.

Sandra Eccles' 16-year-old son Julian came to know the sting of the alleged predators when he and a group of friends found a pool at Christie Pits Park they'd planned to go swimming in was closed. The group saw nine teens ride by on bicycles and had a funny feeling. But when they turned to leave, the gang came after them.

"They came back on foot over to them and surrounded them," she explains. "They then started demanding that they hand over everything that they had." One of his friends was punched in the stomach, but her son only realized how close he came to being seriously injured or worse after the ordeal was over. "They held a metal object to my son's head. He didn't feel it, but one of his friends said that it was a gun that was held to his head."

All the accused are between 16 and 17 years of age. They're facing a total of 198 charges for 15 robberies. They remain in custody and cops are urging any other victims who might not have reported a robbery to come forward.

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