A 23-year-old man charged in three separate incidents in which a bucket of feces was dumped on a person over the past four days made a brief court appearance on Wednesday.
Samuel Opoku was arrested in the Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue area on Tuesday evening following tips from the public.
A police source told 680 NEWS the suspect was arrested at a shelter after someone recognized him from photos and called authorities.
Opoku has been charged with five counts each of assault with a weapon and mischief interfering with property.
The first incident happened at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library on Friday, where a man assaulted a woman and a young person and poured a bucket of “liquefied fecal matter” he was carrying onto them while they were seated in the library.
In the second incident, a man assaulted a man and woman at York University’s Scott Library and again dumped a bucket of feces on one of them on Sunday around 5 p.m.
The third incident occurred outside a building at the University of Toronto shortly before midnight on Monday. Investigators once again said a bucket of feces was dumped on a female on the street. The orange bucket from Home Depot was left at the scene.
Close to 100 people, including a number of students from the University of Toronto, showed up for the hearing which necessitated an almost six hour delay as officials looked for a bigger court room which could handle the unusually high number of spectators.
Once inside, they watched as Opoku – dressed in a blue denim shirt, grey pants and wearing no shoes but only socks – sat with his head down in the holding box throughout the proceeding.
The judge has issued a publication ban in the case and ordered Opoku to return for a bail hearing next Tuesday.
Outside court, Opoku’s lawyer Jordan Weisz noted there was little he could share due to a publication ban protecting information presented during a bail hearing, but said he understands the degree of interest in the case.
“As things progress, I’ll certainly be prepared and willing to provide information to the public, who understandably is concerned and interested to get the full story,” he said. “Obviously the public doesn’t have the full story at this point.”
Asked whether his client had any underlying mental health issues, Weisz noted “the nature of the allegations suggests that,” but declined to provide more details other than to say Opoku was shocked by the allegations against him.
“He was in shock, I think that’s probably a fair characterization,” he said. “Understandably, to say the least, it’s not a pleasant situation to be sitting in a courtroom with the public scrutiny that he’s currently having to endure.”
First-year student Tina Yang says curiosity drove her to the courtroom on Wednesday, adding she wanted to get a sense of the reasons behind his alleged actions.
“During the first incident, we thought it was a joke,” Yang said outside the courtroom. “We thought it was funny and disgusting. But then there was the second and the third one, so we thought it was getting terrifying.”
“There were students from Ryerson, from U of T, York. It was interesting how we kind of united on this,” said Ruth Masuka, a second-year U of T student who waited upwards of four hours for Opoku to appear.
The students bonded over the fear that they might have been the next victim, she said, noting that tensions were already high due to impending exams.
“Every space is unsafe. It was a very public setting,” Masuka said. “It’s just a recipe for a scary energy.”
Felipe Santos, a recent grad who still spends a lot of time on the University of Toronto campus that was the scene of one attack, said most people who turned up for the hearing were “morbidly curious.”
“I felt a bit of the fear that everybody felt, so I was here out of curiosity of what would bring somebody to do this kind of thing,” said Santos.
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report