West-end Toronto residents have been on high alert after a string of numerous Roncesvalles-area assaults over the past few weeks. On Friday, July 31, Toronto Police Services confirmed that they now have a male suspect in custody.


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Toronto Police 11 Division Detective Services told Narcity over the phone at around 5:45 p.m. on July 31 that they can confirm they have a man in custody.*

At 6:17 p.m., TPS issued an official release, announcing they have arrested 37-year-old Driss Zahri, 37, of no fixed address.*

Zahri is charged with four counts of Assault, two counts of Assault with a Weapon, six counts of Fail to Comply with Recognizance, and six counts of Fail to Comply with Probation. He's set to appear in court tomorrow.

The first attack occurred in early May, in which the suspect assaulted a 50-year-old woman before fleeing. 

Since then, police have been called to the area to investigate six additional similar incidents.

Narcity spoke on Friday, July 31 with Abigail Gamble, one of the Roncesvalle women who was assaulted on Indian Road.

All the assaults have been against women with the exception of one, which occurred on Monday, July 20. The last six assaults were in the span of eight days, reports CBC.

Gamble described the assault on her to Narcity, which occurred at approximately 11:30pm on July 21.

“I heard some running up very quickly behind me [..] I just thought it was a jogger who was getting too close for comfort, so I turned quickly in their direction."

She added: "Without saying a word, the person who I've identified as male-appearing, punched me in the side.”

The suspect tried to punch her once more in the face before fleeing the scene. The encounter was no more than five seconds, Gamble says.

 

Gamble has been blown away by the outpouring of community support in response to the incident.

"Nearly 1400 people have re-shared my post and probably a couple hundred at this point have reached out privately and publicly with their support," she told Narcity.

She adds she has heard from other women who have experienced the same thing, some of whom live in the Roncesvilles area.

Gamble says she hopes that the city will work to not only stop whoever is perpetuating the attacks, but to develop initiatives that address gender-based violence in Toronto communities.

A community meeting of almost 200 neighbours was held in Sorauren Park on Wednesday to discuss what the community could do to keep itself safe.

*This article has been updated.

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