Woman set on fire in Toronto bus attack dies from her injuries

Woman in her 20s was assaulted by another passenger in a suspected hate crime last month

A Toronto woman who was set on fire last month on a public bus in a suspected hate crime has died of her injuries, police say.

On 17 June, a woman in her 20s who was travelling to her job as a caregiver, was sitting on an idling bus in the city’s west end when she was assaulted by another passenger.

“The man was then alleged to have poured some type of liquid substance or an accelerant on this woman and then ignited that substance, causing a fire and causing the female victim to burn,” Constable Alex Li of Toronto police told reporters.

As the attacker fled the scene, transit employees and passengers rushed to help the woman, quickly extinguishing the fire. She was treated by fire crews and was sent to the hospital in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns. Police at the time called her injuries “life-altering”.

The city’s mayor, John Tory, called the attack a “shocking criminal act” and said residents were praying for her recovery.

Police arrested Tenzin Norbu, 33, and charged him with attempted murder and assault with a weapon, common nuisance endangering lives and safety of the public, and mischief over C$5,000 interfering with property.

Police called the attack “isolated incident” and “random”, but after consulting with the hate crime unit, said that “the investigation is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offence”.

In early July, the sister of the victim started a crowdfunding page. She wrote that her sister was suffering “full thickness burns, is in critical condition, and under life support”.

“My sister is a caregiver who has lived a life of service to others,” her sister Dawa wrote. “At this point, we really need support from all of you on her long journey ahead.”

On 5 July, police said the woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, had succumbed to her injuries and the case had been transferred to the homicide department.

The brazen attack is the latest in a string of troubling incidents on the city’s transit system. In mid-April, a woman was pushed on to the tracks while a train was approaching. She was able to seek shelter under the lip of the subway platform, but suffered a broken rib.

A week before, Kartik Vasudev, a 21-year-old international student, was shot and killed outside a subway while heading to his part-time job.

Also in April, a 30-year-old man had been stabbed in the neck while waiting on a subway platform. Police called the incident an “unprovoked attack”.

In response to spate of violent attacks, as well as a rise in assaults and robberies, the city’s transit commission has increased the number of patrols at transit stations.