The Ottawa Redblacks have suspended defensive lineman Chris Larsen amid a Toronto police investigation into a possible hate crime.
The CFL team said Wednesday night that Larsen is a suspect in an alleged assault that occured on Toronto Island.
“Late last night, we were made aware of social media allegations of an assault by a group of individuals that included Chris Larsen and immediately commenced an investigation which is ongoing,” wrote Mark Goudie, CEO of the team’s parent company, in a statement Wednesday.
The aggravated assault took place at the Hanlan’s Point ferry docks on the evening of June 5 and left the 24-year-old victim with “significant injuries,” according to police.
Investigators say a man and a 27-year-old woman were walking to the ferry docks when they “became involved in a disagreement with a group of people.” A man from the group reportedly “made homophibic comments” at them, and two men from the group assaulted the man by “punching and kicking him.”
A GoFundMe page has identified the victim as David Gomez, and at the time of publication has raised over $40,000 toward his recovery, therapy, and legal fees. “The attack left David unconscious for some time, and he awoke to find out his nose had been broken, cheekbone and orbital bone shattered, a splint in his hip bone and a concussion,” says a statement on the page.
Officers were seeking three suspects—two men and a woman.
“We are particularly sorry for the trauma caused to the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” Goudie added.
The CFL also released a statement Wednesday night, stating the league “is aware of violence against a LGBTQ2S+ community member, and the allegation that has been made against Chris Larsen.”
Toronto police declined to confirm whether Larsen was being investigated following the announcement by the Redblacks.
“We would not speculate on those alleged to be involved until charges have been laid,” the police told the Canadian Press in a statement. “However, if anyone has any information about the suspects they should contact police so we can thoroughly investigate.”
Larsen, who is 25, has not played a game in the CFL.
The Toronto native was picked in the sixth round, 54th overall, by the Redblacks in the 2019 CFL draft out of the University of Manitoba.
“We condemn homphobia, violence, and hate,” the CFL continued. “We support inclusivity and diversity.”