A hit-and-run collision downtown that left a 27-year-old man dead yesterday has been deemed a homicide, Toronto police say.

According to police, a blue Dodge Caravan was travelling north on George Street at a high rate of speed at around 5:45 p.m.

The vehicle then mounted the sidewalk and deliberately struck a man on the west side of the street, just south of Gerrard Street, police said. The van then sped away.

One witness told CP24 that the van appeared to have backed over the victim following a dispute over drugs. However police have not confirmed that detail.

Another man who witnessed the incident said the van struck and dragged the victim’s bicycle a short distance and also knocked over a sign-post as it sped off.

The victim was declared dead at the scene a short time later. He has since been identified by police as 27-year-old Steven Doyle, of no fixed address.

Friends of Doyle told CTV News Toronto that he grew up in the Regent Park area and was well known in the neighbourhood. Friends also said that Doyle was a father to two daughters.

One friend who spoke to the network on Tuesday morning said he was in “absolute shock” following Doyle’s sudden death.

“I'm at a loss for words. I'm at a real loss for words. I just can't believe this,” Kevin Lee said.

The van was located a short time after the incident, but the driver fled on foot and police are still looking for him.

The driver is described as having brown skin with a light complexion. He stands five-foot-eight to five-foot-ten and has a slim-to-medium build, with dark-brown shoulder-length hair in a long ponytail. He was wearing a dark shirt and prescription glasses with rectangular frames.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-7400 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Stretches of Gerrard and George streets remained closed overnight as police investigated the fatal incident. The roads reopened by around 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday.