Suspect in GTA shooting rampage was a former employee of Milton auto body shop, cousin of victim says
Published Tuesday, September 13, 2022 9:36AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 13, 2022 4:29PM EDT
New details are emerging about a gunman who fatally shot a Toronto police officer at a Mississauga coffee shop on Monday afternoon and then opened fire on three people at a Milton auto body shop less than an hour later, killing one of them.
The Milton shooting took place at around 2:50 p.m. after the suspect had already reportedly killed Toronto police Const. Andrew Hong in what authorities have described as an “unprovoked,” ambush-style attack inside a Tim Hortons.
So far a motive for the rampage isn’t clear but on Tuesday CTV News did speak with a cousin of Milton victim Shakeel Ashraf, who confirmed that the suspect was a former employee at the garage owned by the deceased - MK Auto Repairs.
“I don’t know him personally. He used to work at the shop about a year ago and he was there for a short period of time from what I understand,” Arslan Hanif said. “I just can’t find a motive, especially for a person like Shakeel. He contributed to the community, he gave his time donating to charities, he was a gem.
Hanif told CTV News that his cousin was out for lunch when the suspect first arrived at the auto body shop.
He said that he was told the suspect enquired about his cousin’s whereabouts and then hung around the shop until he returned.
Police have said that a total of three people were ultimately shot inside the repair shop. Ashraf, 38, was pronounced dead on scene while two others were rush to hospital with critical and serious injuries, respectively.
The suspect fled the scene but was ultimately located in Hamilton and shot and killed by police a few hours later. That incident is now being probed by the Special Investigations Unit.
“It is hard to believe. It is shocking. The family is still in shock. I spoke to the father yesterday, his brother, they are just in shock. They aren’t in the right state of mind,” “Hanif told CTV News.
Police have released limited details about the circumstances surrounding the shootings so far.
Police sources did tell CP24 earlier on Tuesday that Hong was sitting at a table eating his lunch inside a Tim Hortons after participating in a training exercise with several other motorcycle officers when he was ambushed at point-blank range.
The sources also say that it is believed that the suspect tried to retrieve Hong’s service pistol from its holster following the shooting but was unable to do so due to a safety lock.
He ultimately fled the scene in a stolen vehicle, eventually showing up at an auto body shop in Milton.
POLICE ISSUED ACTIVE SHOOTER ALERT
At one point following Monday’s violence, police released a public safety alert due to what they described as an “active shooter” situation.
The suspect, however, was ultimately located in the vicinity of a Hamilton cemetery moments later.
In a news conference on Monday night, Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah expressed his condolences, describing the shooting of Hong as “unprovoked” and an “ambush attack.”
Duraiappah also said that a “second innocent victim suffered life-altering gunshot injuries” as a result of the Mississauga shooting.
It is not clear how that individual was injured.
Hong was a 22-year-veteran of the force who was also a married father of two.
He is being remembered by friends and colleagues today as a “gentle giant” who was “larger than life.”
Ashraf, meanwhile, has been described as a ‘devoted father’ and avid cricket player with deep roots in the community.
“I’ve known him for over 15 years,” one longtime customer told CP24 on Tuesday. “He has been out go-to guy for any issues with the car, any information on cars, not only for me, for my children as well. A loving, just an affectionate family man.”