Toronto has witnessed some high profile public stabbings.
• Just after 3 pm, on December 2015, Rohinie Bisesar fatally stabbed Rosemarie Junor at a Shoppers Drug Mart in the underground PATH system below Bay and Wellington streets. Bisesar stabbed Junor with a small knife bought at a dollar store, while Junor was browsing cosmetics.
• In Toronto, on the morning of Wednesday, April 9th, 2014, Chuang Li was fired from his job at his office near York Mills. Li then repeatedly stabbed two managers then another manager who might have tried to stop him.
• On June 17, the day of the Toronto Raptors Parade, at the Yonge-Dundas Square, a man stabbed three men and a boy
Why these tragedies happen is not always clear. It is also difficult to anticipate such horrible acts because they happen suddenly and sometimes in places where violence is infrequent and very unexpected.
The simple fact is we simply don’t know what people are thinking, feeling, or planning. How, then, can we anticipate such horrible incidents? Sadly, in many cases, we cannot.
So, what can we do? Every situation is unique but here are seven general suggestions.
- Exit/escape plans. Similar to fire drills, exit plans facilitate leaving a dangerous area for a safer place. Such evacuation plans should be similar. and should include contingency actions to allow a flexible option. In workplaces, these can be organized and practiced. Otherwise, develop the habit of identifying your escape routes.
- Have Back-Up Escape Plans. You might not be able to escape. The assailant is blocking the way. You should have contingency plans to allow flexible options.
- Safe Place? If there is no accessible exit is there a room you can lock, barricade, and call for help?
- Study Body Language. Are they walking intently towards you with one hand behind their back? Is he looking around to see who else is in the area before approaching you? Be aware of body language. Learn potential danger signs. There is a growing literature on this topic.
- Where are Their Hands? The is something suspicious and unsettling when someone is walking towards you with one hand in their pocket or behind their back. Do they have something in their hand?
- Use Common Objects Office supplies, chairs, fans, lamps, small tables, chairs… If immediate escape is not possible using a common object to protect yourself can be life-saving. It is worthwhile to ask an expert on how best to use common objects. (leading us to point no.7)
- Learn Self-Defense. Yes, this sounds self-serving but self-defense training that offers you a better understanding of edged weapons assaults and teaches practical skills, can be a life-saving investment.
As always, we advocate awareness and avoidance if possible. Be aware of your surroundings and the behavior of people in your vicinity.