At home at his dinner table on a day off, Sgt. Zenon Costa-Correia was checking emails on his work phone when he saw a bulletin for a man wanted in connection with an assault on September 29.
It’s alleged that a woman was walking with her three-month-old baby near Kingston Rd. and Celeste Dr. when she was approached by a man who yelled racial slurs. He also threw a water bottle that hit the victim on the shoulder, struck her in the face and spilled water on the toddler.
“This was allegedly a hate-motivated crime and I recognized the importance of getting him off the street,” said the officer, who has been on the job for 24 years.
Searching a database of police arrest photos, Costa-Correia put in elements of the suspect’s description.
“There were like 40 hits,” he recalled. “I started looking through the photographs and came up with a potential suspect.”
Though the suspect was wearing a mask at the time of the assault, Costa-Correia was confident he had the right man.
“I only had a limited vision to view, but the shape of the right ear interior and his eyebrows stood out,” said Costa-Correia, who has worked at 43 Division for the last 12 years. “What was even more compelling was his address (which was nearby).”
On October 17, Christopher Otoo, 27, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with two counts of assault with a weapon.
It’s further alleged that the same man was wanted for four other incidents.
...It was very concerning to us because of these random incidents throughout different areas of the city. This one was particularly concerning because it involved a mother with a baby who was very distraught after the incident
On June 4 at about 8.30 p.m., a woman sitting on a southbound subway at York Mills subway station was confronted by a man sitting close to her despite COVID-19 distancing protocols. It’s alleged he spat on her and punched her.
Three days later at approximately 11.50 p.m., a man sitting on a bus in the Markham Rd. and Eglinton Rd. E. area was approached by the suspect who yelled racial slurs at him, spat on him, struck him on the head and knocked off his head covering before fleeing the area.
On July 15, two people were on the platform of the Dufferin Subway Station when they were approached by a man who punched them and fled.
On July 22, two people were travelling southbound on a TTC bus towards Kennedy Subway Station when they were approached by a man who yelled racial slurs. He punched one victim in the ear and the other in the eye and ear and attempted to remove a Patka from one of the victims.
Otoo is facing six counts of assault.
These incidents have been brought to the attention of the Toronto Police Hate Crime Unit.
This is not the first time that Costa-Correia has helped to capture a suspect while working from home.
“He’s extremely motivated when it comes to trying to identify criminals out there,” said Supt. Dave Rydzik, the 43 Division Unit Commander. “He gets into various databases and just starts looking at pictures of people he has known in the area and different things like that and matches them up. Often times, officers do that while they are working, but he does it at work and when he’s off duty. It’s great because in this particular case it was very concerning to us because of these random incidents throughout different areas of the city. This one was particularly concerning because it involved a mother with a baby who was very distraught after the incident.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-4300 , Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at222tips.com, online on our Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes or Google Play.