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Man charged in subway homicide case appears in Toronto court

Last Updated Jun 19, 2018 at 5:40 pm EST

A subway sign is seen in Toronto on Friday, August 24, 2012. A man accused of pushing another man in front of a train at a busy Toronto subway station did not have any interaction with the victim before allegedly shoving him to his death, police said Tuesday after the 57-year-old appeared briefly in court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

TORONTO – A man accused of pushing a senior citizen in front of a train at a busy Toronto subway station did not have any interaction with the victim before allegedly shoving him to his death, police said Tuesday after the 57-year-old appeared briefly in court.

John Reszetnik has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in connection with Monday morning’s incident at Bloor-Yonge station, where two of the city’s primary transit lines connect.

Police identified the victim as 73-year-old Yosuke Hayahara of Toronto.

There is no apparent motive for the incident, Det. Rob North said outside a Toronto court after a hearing where Reszetnik’s case was put over to next month.

“The incident took place in a very quick fashion and ended very quickly,” he told reporters.

Officers have spoken to four or five witnesses but believe there were about 25 more on the station platform at the time, seven or eight of whom would have directly witnessed Hayahara’s fall, North added.

“I understand it’s a very traumatic incident they may have witnessed, however we would like them to come forward so we can interview them and sort of get a narrative from them about what transpired,” he said.

Reszetnik appeared in court wearing a hooded, white, police-issue jumpsuit. His case was put over to July 17.

He did not speak except to tell his lawyer he was comfortable with the date of his next appearance and to mumble something under his breath as he was led away at the end of proceedings.

Reszetnik has had multiple minor interactions with police in the past, according to North, who would not comment on whether the man had ever been charged with a crime before.

Police have not confirmed, or ruled out the possibility, that mental health issues may have contributed to the incident but will continue to delve into Reszetnik’s personal history, North said.

The Toronto Transit Commission has said intentional deaths on the subway system are extremely rare, and that the last such incident took place in 1997.

The accused in that incident, Herbert Cheong, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for pushing 23-year-old Charlene Minkowski in front of an oncoming train.

Psychiatrists called by the defence and the Crown testified that Cheong had schizophrenia and had an “abiding dislike” of women. Cheong was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.