By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — A man walked along a Toronto street firing a handgun into restaurants and cafes, shooting 14 people and killing two before dying after an exchange of gunfire with police.
Police Chief Mark Saunders did not rule out terrorism as a motive, though officials did not immediately identify the attacker, other than to say he was 29 years old.
Toronto police spokesman Meaghan Gray said early Monday that a second victim had died, though there were no further details.
Saunders earlier said that a young woman had died in Sunday’s shootings and that a girl aged 8 or 9 was in critical condition. The condition of the other victims was not known yet, police spokesman Mark Pugash said.
The mass shooting in a usually peaceful city comes three months after a driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14 and amid increasing concern about gun violence.
A video from one witness shows a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown, a lively residential area with crowded Greek restaurants and cafes.
Witnesses heard many shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants and cafes and patios on both sides of the street and firing into them.
John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots.
“We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran,” he said.
Tanya Wilson was closing her tattoo shop on the street when a mother and a son ran into her store with gunshot wounds to their legs
“They said they were walking and a man told them to get the hell out his way and he just shot them,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she tied and elevated their wounds and tried to keep them calm while they waited for paramedics. She locked the door and shut off the lights, not knowing what was happening outside.
An army of police, paramedics and other first responders descended on the scene, while people, some in their pajamas, emerged from their homes to see what was happening.
Toronto Councilor Paula Fletcher told CP24 television that “it’s not gang related. It looks like someone who is very disturbed.”
Mass shootings are rare in Canada’s largest city.
“We were so use to living in a city where these things didn’t happen,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said. “But there are things that happen nowadays and they are just unspeakable.”
This past weekend Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city.
“Guns are too readily available to too many people,” Tory said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his thoughts were with everyone affected.
“The people of Toronto are strong, resilient and brave — and we’ll be there to support you through this difficult time,” Trudeau tweeted.
In April, the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14. Authorities have not disclosed a motive. But they have said the arrested driver, Alek Minassian, posted a message on social media referencing a misogynistic online community before the attack.
This story has been corrected to show that Saunders said the wounded girl was 8 or 9, not that she was 9.
[Feature image: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP]