'Every resource' being used to locate suspects in restaurant bombing: police chief
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, May 25, 2018 5:32AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 25, 2018 10:13PM EDT
Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans says that “every resource” at her disposal is being used to help track down and apprehend those responsible for a “horrendous” bombing at a Mississauga restaurant on Thursday night.
Evans says that two suspects were seen carrying an improvised explosive device (IED) into the Bombay Bhel restaurant near Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue at around 10:30 p.m.
She says that investigators believe the suspects fled the restaurant and got into a vehicle “immediately” following the explosion.
A total of 15 people ranging in age from 23 to 69 were injured as a result of the blast. Three of those people were rushed to a trauma centre with critical injuries but their condition improved overnight and they are now listed as stable. Those people have been identified as a 35-year-old Brampton man, a 62-year-old Mississauga woman and a 48-year-old Mississauga woman.
The other 12 victims all sustained minor shrapnel-related injuries and were treated and released from local hospitals, Evans said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. We know this is an extremely difficult time for them. I want to assure everyone that every police resource is being used right now to locate the people responsible for this horrendous act,” Evans told reporters at the scene on Friday morning. “There is no indication this is a terrorist attack or a hate crime at this time. We haven’t ruled anything out as we start the investigation.”
Police said that all victims had been discharged from hospital by Friday afternoon.
Two birthday parties were taking place inside restaurant
Evans said that two separate birthday parties were taking place inside the restaurant at the time but she said that it is too early to say whether the suspects may have been targeting people attending either of those events.
She said that there were also numerous children under the age of 10 inside the restaurant, all of whom escaped injury. All told, there were approximately 40 guests and staff inside the building when the bomb went off, police said Friday.
Police have released surveillance camera images of the two suspects and have reached out to other Greater Toronto Police forces to ensure that they are looking for them as well, Evans said.
The first male suspect is said to be in his 20s, and between five-foot-ten and six feet tall with light skin and a stocky build. He was wearing dark-blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie with the hood pulled over his head, a baseball cap with a light grey peak and a black cloth covering his face.
The second suspect is described as being about five-foot-nine or five-foot ten with fair skin and a thin build. He was wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie with the hood pulled over his head, a grey t-shirt and dark-coloured skate shoes. He also was seen with his face covered.
“We need the public’s assistance to help identify these men,” Evans told reporters. “I urge anyone who may have information about this incident or who was at or near this restaurant at the time to please contact Peel Regional Police.”
Investigation ongoing at the scene
The roads surrounding the Bombay Bhel restaurant had reopened by early Friday morning but the plaza that it is located in remains closed as police conduct their investigation at the scene.
Evans said that police did complete an initial sweep of the restaurant to ensure there are no other explosive devices but have not begun their formal investigation inside as of yet.
She said that the damage to the restaurant is “considerable.”
“This is a really serious investigation and we want to take our time and make sure we are very methodical with it,” she said.
Evans said that police are still looking to track down a number of people who were at the restaurant but left the scene before police arrived.
Speaking with reporters on Friday morning, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie urged anyone with information to contact police.
“This is certainly not anything you would expect to happen in Mississauga. This is not the Mississauga I know,” she said. “This is a heinous crime that has been committed. Police are actively investigating at the scene and we ask that anyone with any information please come forward. The people who have done this need to answer for their crimes and they need to be brought to justice.”
By Friday afternoon, police had let the owners of vehicles parked in the plaza to return and remove their cars.
Investigators have turned their attention to a detailed sweep of the interior of the restaurant, though officers were seen outside slowly combing the ground for bits of evidence.
Restaurant releases statement
The Bombay Bhel location in Mississauga is part of chain of four Indian restaurants that are located across the GTA.
In a message posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page on Friday morning, the operators of the Bombay Bhel called the bombing “extremely horrific” and “sad.” The restaurant also thanked its patrons for all of their “support and well wishes, especially to the families that were affected.”
Haroon Khan, who said he was a friend of the owners of the restaurant, could not believe such an act could occur in the city he’s been living in for more than 40 years.
“This is not Mississauga – I’ve been living here since 1976, the city is the greatest and world’s most diverse society. We live here like family. I got calls from overseas people wondering how I’m doing. With all the media this news has gone across the world.”
Meanwhile, at a campaign event in Toronto on Friday morning Premier Kathleen Wynne said the incident was “shocking and fearful” and “not at all what any of us could expect when we’re out with our families at a restaurant enjoying themselves.”
“These are shocking incidents and made all the more shocking because they are unusual in our society,” Wynne said, referring also to the North York van attack.
Wynne said she altered her campaign schedule Friday and was on the phone early Friday morning with police and other officials. She said law enforcement still had not pinpointed a motive for the attack, calling it only a “criminal incident.”
“We just don’t have any idea of exactly what was going on.”
Wynne said she had been in touch with Crombie earlier and would provide Mississauga and Peel Region with whatever they need to investigate the incident.
“(Crombie) has my personal cell number and she will be in touch with me if there’s anything more that we can do,” Wynne said.
According to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, RCMP are assisting Peel Regional Police in the investigation.
Goodale, however, says there is "no indication of a connection to national security matters or hate crimes" at this stage.