One victim dead after 14 people shot on the Danforth; Police say suspected shooter dead
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, July 22, 2018 10:38PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 23, 2018 6:15AM EDT
A young woman is dead and 13 other people have been injured after a mass shooting on The Danforth Sunday night.
Gunfire erupted in the area of Danforth and Logan avenues at around 10 p.m.
Witnesses in the area said they heard anywhere between 10 and 20 shots being fired. Some said they saw a gunman dressed in black opening fire on people in the area. Witnesses also described seeing a number of people lying on the ground in the aftermath of the shooting.
Toronto police said there was an exchange of gunfire with the shooter and a total of 14 victims were shot, including a young woman who died and a young girl who is in critical condition in hospital.
Police said the suspected shooter is dead and is not included in the tally of those shot.
The motive for the shooting is not yet clear.
“Because it’s early we don’t have a lot of what has caused the motivation of this and we are actively investigating that right now,” Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters at the scene.
There is a heavy police presence at the scene and a large swath of the area has been blocked off as emergency crews respond to the situation.
Saunders said it took police some time to contain the scene because of the size of the area affected.
“I can tell you there was an exchange of gunfire,” Saunders said. “I’m glad that my officers are safe and I’m glad that it is resolved. I’m not happy that there are quite a few people who have been victims of gunplay, which is why we have so many resources that are here right now.
“Hopefully as we unfold the investigation, hopefully we’ll have a better understanding of what motivated this to happen.”
Dozens of police officers, firefighters and paramedics remain at the scene. Tactical officers could be seen walking about placing markers over shell casings at the scene. Police also detonated a suspicious device found at the scene, but have not said what it was or what it was thought to be.
Gunfire sends bystanders running
The shooting happened on a warm summer night as hundreds of people were out on the popular stretch enjoying the end of the weekend.
One man said he heard 20 shots fired at intervals.
“Then I saw the carnage as I ran down the street, trying to follow the gunfire, I guess. Pretty crazy. I saw at least four people shot.”
Another man told CP24 that he was standing 10 to 15 feet away from the alleged gunman when he got a look at him.
“He looked around 35, long hair, black hat. He had a dark shirt with long sleeves rolled up and black pants,” the man said.
“He was skinny, but he had this horrible look in his face, like he was under the influence or something.”
One woman named Diana who works as a server at Caffe Demetre told CP24 she was serving a family of four near the front of the café when a gunman opened fire toward patrons.
“Everyone started yelling and crying,” she said. “I ran towards the back and went to the basement.”
She said that when she was cleared to come back up, she saw a little girl from the family she’d been serving lying on the ground.
“When I came upstairs I saw the little girl on the floor. Her mom was crying,” she said.
She said she never thought something like this would happen in the restaurant where she works.
“I’m really worried about that little girl because she just started her life,” she said.
Police exploring ‘every possible motive’
Police are appealing to all witnesses who were in the area to come forward and Saunders said it is “critical” that anyone who saw anything or anyone who has any information about the alleged gunman speaks with police.
“If you do have any information or if you do have any knowledge of why this occurred, give us a call,” Saunders said. He added that police are looking at “absolutely every single possible motive for this.”
Investigators on scene said buses were waiting at Pape and Danforth avenues to transport witnesses to be interviewed.
Saunders said that the province’s Special Investigations Unit, which is called in anytime police are involved in an incident where there is a death or serious injury, has been notified. However he said the Toronto police investigation is ongoing.
Mayor John Tory also spoke at the scene alongside Saunders.
In a statement, Tory called the shooting “a despicable act.”
“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I am outraged that someone has unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening,” Tory said in the statement.
He said he has “total confidence” in the ability of police to handle the investigation and urged people not to draw any conclusions before there is more information.
The mass shooting comes as Toronto police bolstered their numbers on the city’s streets this weekend to crack down on a spate of recent gun violence.
Tory said the latest shooting constitutes an attack against “the entire city.”
“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,” Tory said. “This is a tragedy and on behalf of all Toronto residents, we are extending our prayers to all the innocent people attacked tonight, their families and their friends.”
Tory said that he has also spoken to Premier Doug Ford, who has offered any assistance required.