**680 NEWS**

Three people are dead — including the 29-year-old gunman — and 12 others are injured following a mass shooting on the Danforth late Sunday night.

Toronto police were called to an area outside a restaurant on Danforth Avenue near Logan Avenue around 10 p.m. following reports of multiple gunshots. Witnesses told CityNews that they heard up to 25 gunshots.

One of the dead is a woman, but police have not said who the other victim is.

The injured were taken to various hospitals in the city. A young girl, believed to be eight or nine years old, is among the injured currently in hospital in a “critical state.”


Late Sunday night, police Chief Mark Saunders said the shooter exchanged fire with police officers, though no officers were injured. It is not yet clear if the suspect died as a result of the standoff or if it was a self-inflicted injury.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said the suspect was walking along the Danforth when he “fired shots at groups of people several times.”

“Several people were struck. Two civilians were fatally injured,” the SIU said in a release on Monday.

Police tracked down the suspect on nearby Bowden Street and exchanged gunfire with the suspect. He then fled the area and was found dead on Danforth Avenue.

“I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did.”
-Police Chief Mark Saunders

Police investigating a motive

Saunders would not speculate on what the motive may have been behind the attack, including the possibility that it may have been a terrorist incident.

“I’m keeping everything open, I’m looking at absolutely every single possible motive for this,” said Saunders. “When you have this many people struck by gunfire it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this and I certainly don’t want to speculate as well.”

When asked by reporters at the scene, Saunders said this was not a random shooting.

“This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders wouldn’t say how the suspect died but said it appears it may be from gunshot wounds. He also wouldn’t comment on whether the fatal shot was self-inflicted.

“I wasn’t there, we don’t know, we’re trying to descale it to the best of our ability to make sure that we’re accurate. I can tell you there was an exchange of gunfire,” he said.

Saunders said the suspect is not known to them at this time, but that he did use a handgun.

“It was chaos,” witness says

The shooting happened at a time when people were outside, enjoying a summer evening out with family and friends.

Carter Ashenafi was having dinner with his family on the Danforth when shots rang out. He fled to the kitchen while his family went into the basement.

“I was with my family and we were just eating. We were finished eating, it was dessert. After we’re done that, the manager came and told us there’s been a shooting. And before the manager finished his sentence, they started shooting,” Ashenafi said.

Helen, who didn’t want her last name made public, lives on the Danforth and saw several of the victims.

“When I crossed the street I saw two women, maybe in their 20s, trying to be resuscitated and apparently one of them that I saw died. And then I saw another man at the corner store, cafe, and he was lying down and he also got shot. That’s what I saw.”

She said members of the public sprang into action to help the victims before paramedics arrived on scene.

“Before the ambulance came, people were trying to resuscitate the two girls. It was chaos though,” she said.

“I was trying to help this one woman, calm her down. Apparently her daughter texted her saying she was hiding in the bathroom in one of the restaurants and the mother was just chaotic trying to find where her daughter was and if she was safe. And she was safe.”

More on the police investigation; witnesses sought

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the shootings or may have video or information about the shooting to contact them.

“We’re looking for anyone that saw anything, and this is critical, because what happens is a lot of times, people will tend to vet out their information, when in fact it can be extremely important to our investigation,” Saunders said.

“It is very crucial for us to put all of these pieces together to figure out exactly what happened.”

It also appears police conducted a detonation but it is not clear for what reason or when it happened.

“We err on the side of caution whenever we have anything. We try to treat this like a jigsaw puzzle and we want to make sure we maximize the safety of the public, safety of the first responders that are here on scene. So anytime we have anything that even remotely looks innocuous, we’ll err on the side of caution.”

“City will always be resilient in the face of such attacks”

Toronto mayor John Tory called the shooting a “despicable act.”

“I am outraged that someone has unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening,” said Tory. “I would ask people not to draw any conclusions until we have more information from the police.”

“While our city will always be resilient in the face of such attacks, it does not mean such a cowardly act committed against our residents is any less painful — this is an attack against innocent families and our entire city.”

The shooting comes on the same weekend Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city. But Saunders said the situation would have been much worse if police did not response as fast as they did.

“We had lots of [police] resources that were able to respond to it. I don’t have any issues to the response. I’m grateful that the officers that did respond — the first ones on scene — are not in harm’s way. They were put in harm’s way. This could have been a different story.”

“But at the same token, I have victims … it certainly is not a day that I’m happy. I know that it could have been worse. I’m glad that the officers responded and I believe that with their quick response, [they] were able to resolve the situation much quicker.”


–680 News Staff

Filed under: Danforth, Shooting, Toronto