A Woman Was Set on Fire on a Toronto Bus. Police Believe It Was a Hate Crime.

Police said on Friday a man boarded a bus, approached a woman he did not know, poured an accelerant on her, and ignited it.
Toronto Police are investigating a horrific “random” attack aboard a bus, where a woman was set on fire, as a hate crime.
A Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus for Islington in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday, February 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Stephen C. Host

Toronto Police are investigating a horrific “random” attack aboard a bus, where a woman was set on fire, as a hate crime. 

On Friday afternoon, a man boarded a bus idling at a West Toronto station, approached a woman, poured a flammable liquid on her, ignited it, and fled. The woman was quickly extinguished by transit employees and a "good samaritan," but suffered second and third-degree burns. She is currently in hospital in critical condition. Police have described the injuries as “life-altering.” 


Police said the attack was “random” and it’s believed the suspect and victim didn’t know each other.

“The issue with (a) random (incident) is that we have to then trace what the relationship or how this came to be, what the motive was,” Toronto police Constable Alex Li told reporters on Sunday. “So in this instance, (it) being random (is an) obvious cause of concern.”

Police arrested Tenzin Norbu, a 33-year-old Toronto man, shortly after the attack. Norbu has been charged with attempted murder, assault with a weapon, common nuisance, and mischief. In a press release, Toronto Police said “after consultation with the Service's specialized Hate Crime Unit, the investigation is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offence.”

There’s no further indication as to the attacker’s motive. Following the brutal act, Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted out a statement saying “this is a shocking criminal act that shouldn’t happen anywhere in our city.”

There’s been a spat of violent crimes at Toronto transit stations over the last year. In April a man was shot outside a Toronto subway station in another random attack. Also in April, a woman was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. She survived and is suing the city.  

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