TTC, police announce reward in Dupont shooting
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, May 29, 2012 1:42PM EDT
Fearing a serial armed robber may strike again, the TTC is offering a $25,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of a person who shot a fare collector earlier this year.
This is the first time the TTC has put up a monetary reward, and new CEO Andy Byford said it is a firm indication of how far the commission is willing to go to protect its employees.
"I think this sends a very strong message to our staff that we will support them and to would-be assailants that we will not tolerate people attacking our staff," Byford told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. "This is a dangerous assailant and what he did to my member of staff, to my colleague, to all of our colleagues who work at the TTC, was outrageous. We won't tolerate people doing this to employees."
The TTC and police are hoping the reward will encourage people to identify the person who shot a fare collector at Dupont Station last February and robbed two others last year.
"Let's call this as it is," Byford said. "This person has struck three times and attacked our member of staff, potentially with the intention of killing him, so this is serious."
Investigators aren't certain about the suspect's gender because there have been conflicting descriptions from witnesses and surveillance video has not been conclusive.
The person was covering his or her face when the fare collector was shot during a failed robbery attempt Feb. 26 and when two Dupont Station fare collectors were robbed last year.
In February's incident, the suspect demanded cash and pulled out a "revolver-type handgun," but the TTC employee didn't comply with his demand, said Staff Insp. Mike Earl of the police service's hold up squad.
The suspect began to walk away, but turned around and opened fire.
The TTC said the employee was hit by two of three gunshots that were fired at the collector booth as surveillance cameras recorded the entire incident.
Police seeking witness
After the shooting, the suspect fled through the station's northwest exit at the corner of Dupont Street and Spadina Road and was chased by a witness before fleeing in a car. Police still haven't been able to identify the witness, and they're urging that person to contact investigators.
The male employee survived the shooting but was hospitalized with serious injuries. He continues to recover and has not been able to return to work, the TTC said.
In last year's gunpoint robberies in June and October, TTC employees were not harmed but there were threats of violence, police said.
In each case, the suspect wore similar clothing, had his or her face covered and was carrying a revolver when he or she approached the fare collector and demanded money.
A white medical mask covered the person's face during the robbery in June 2011 and he or she wore a black balaclava during the hold-up last October.
After the TTC employee was shot, the commission called an emergency meeting and launched a review to determine what, if any, security measures can be improved or added.
On Tuesday, Byford said police patrols have been increased, collector booths are being stocked with limited amounts of cash, debit card use has increased, and the TTC will eventually move to an automated fare system to reduce cash flow.
With less cash on hand, fare collectors become less of a target, Byford said.
After the first two robberies, the TTC improved the positioning of surveillance cameras and installed silent alarms like the one activated after February's shooting.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call police at 416-808-7350 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
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