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Yesterday’s arrest means Parkdale can breathe a little easier—but the treatment of the mentally ill remains an issue

After a disturbing series of assaults that targeted residents with mental illness—some of whom were elderly—in the city’s west end, it looks like the cops got their man. The Toronto Police Service announced yesterday that it had arrested Ricardo Morrison, charging the 32-year-old with two counts of assault and naming him as a “person of interest” in the murder case of 62-year-old George Wass.

While Parkdale didn’t become a fear-gripped ghost town in the last month, the attacks have certainly been on people’s minds. The issue surfaced during interviews with the riding’s election candidates, local residents organized marches, and some people in the community spoke out against the discrimination and neglect that victims of mental illness have to face. In a number of interviews with reporters after the arrest, locals described a palpable sense of relief—but they also weren’t entirely put at ease.

“I’m relieved, but if he’s only responsible for mine and not the others, then that’s not good,” Dan Chiarelli, 45, the most recent victim, said Tuesday.

He was shocked to learn the man accused of attacking him is his neighbour.

“It’s scary,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t even know him.”

We hope police have the right person—and also that the awareness of the challenges confronting those with mental illness won’t fade with the headlines.

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