A 21-year-old man has died and two other people remain in hospital with serious injuries after gunfire erupted outside a hotel in Toronto’s Entertainment District in broad daylight Tuesday.
“This was very brazen,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters at the scene.
Toronto police responded to multiple calls about the sound of gunfire at King Street and Blue Jays Way sometime after 4 p.m.
Officers arrived at the scene to find a male victim suffering from gunshot wounds. Two other victims were located a short time later.
Police said three people were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds. A 21-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy were transported in critical condition, while a 27-year-old woman was transported in serious condition, police said.
At around 6:30 p.m., Saunders confirmed that the 21-year-old victim died of his injuries. The chief initially said the victim who died was 16 years old, but police later corrected his age.
Toronto Paramedic Services initially said they were treating a fourth person at the scene. Police later confirmed that person was not involved in the shooting in any way.
Toronto police said the shooting appears to have occurred outside a hotel in the area. In footage shot by CP24 at the scene, evidence markers could be seen dotting the ground outside the Bisha Hotel & Residences on Blue Jays Way.
The gunfire erupted in broad daylight in an area that typically sees a high volume of pedestrian traffic during the day.
One witness said he heard around six to 10 gunshot sounds before police descended on the area.
“What we heard was like a bunch of fireworks,” one witness told CP24 at the scene. “There were lots of echoes – about six to 10 shots. It was quite startling and then you hear all the sirens afterwards.
“I think a lot of people have power outages in this area too, so people were out for a walk I guess. It’s quite shocking to see in this area.”
Case ‘very solvable’: Saunders
Speaking with reporters Tuesday evening, Saunders said the killing appears to have been targeted and that initial evidence indicates that the suspects were waiting in their vehicle for around 40 minutes prior to the shooting.
“It turns out the suspect vehicle, based on the evidence we have right now, was waiting for about forty minutes for the occupants of another vehicle to arrive to their vehicle,” he said. “When they did, the suspect vehicle made a U-turn, came out, and started firing at this group of individuals.”
He said the shooter exited the passenger side of the suspect vehicle, opened fire, and then got back in the car.
The suspect vehicle – believed to be a blue Volkswagen Tiguan – took off southbound on Blue Jays Way, westbound on Front Street and then northbound on Spadina Avenue, the chief said.
Saunders said the female who was shot appears to have been a bystander.
“By all indications it looks like this female who was shot had nothing to do with this,” he said.
Saunders noted that the densely-populated area sees a high volume of foot traffic, even amid the COVID-19 restrictions and said those who committed the crime likely knew they would unleash “carnage” on the streets.
“Gun bullets are very indiscriminate,” the chief said.
Both the woman and the 15-year-old boy are expected to recover, police said Tuesday evening.
A firearm has been recovered from the scene, police said.
Saunders said he is encouraged by the fact that police have already gathered a large amount of evidence, particularly video evidence, very early on.
“This was very brazen, this offence that took place,” he said. “However, it’s very solvable.”
Saunders said police already know that there were “definitely” multiple people involved.
“There was a driver of the suspect vehicle and we know that the shooter got out on the passenger side," he said.
Saunders said the victims’ vehicle was also at the scene, but is now missing.
"The suspect vehicle was actually facing northbound at one point in time and then came around and started shooting at the victims, in this particular case, as they were about to get into their vehicle,” Saunders said. “That vehicle is not here either. So we're trying to locate both vehicles: the victims’ vehicle as well as the suspects’ vehicle."
There was no description available for the victims’ vehicle so far, nor for the suspects themselves.
It is not yet clear what the relationship is between the suspects and the victims who were targeted.
Saunders said police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.
“So what we’re asking for right now, anyone that was in the area of King and Peter Street or on Wellington and Peter Street, in between those areas, if you saw anything that happened during this occurrence to please call us right now,” Saunders said.
There is a large police presence in the area as police investigate.