A gunman fired shots in a crowded food court in one of Canada’s busiest malls on Saturday, killing a man and injuring seven others, police said.
Police chief Bill Blair said the shooting at Eaton Center in downtown Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent bystanders.
Police constable Victor Kwong said two people were in critical condition after being shot at the Eaton Center in downtown Toronto, including a 13-year old boy. The 25-year-old man who was killed died at the scene, he said.
Kwong said six people were shot in all, including the deceased. Two people were trampled on and pushed, including a pregnant woman who went into labor after she was pushed, he said.
Blair said investigators have a description of the suspect.
“A lot of innocent people were hurt and a lot of innocent people were put at risk,” Blair said. “We will be relentless in our pursuit of the individual or individuals that were responsible. We are -receiving a lot of cooperation from the people that were present in the foot court.”
Blair called the Eaton Center an iconic landmark in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.
“Any place for discharging a firearm in Toronto is dangerous. In the food court of the Eaton Center on a Saturday evening, it’s not only dangerous, it’s outrageous,” he said. “I believe every Torontonian is shocked and appalled by this crime.”
Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest cities in North America. Many Canadians have long taken comfort in the peacefulness of their communities and are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to their US counterparts.
Witnesses said multiple shots were fired in the mall’s food court and that hundreds of panicked shoppers sprinted for the exits. The mall, which is popular with tourists, was evacuated.
Swarms of people watched from outside as an injured man with visible bullet wounds was wheeled out on a stretcher.
Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Brett Lawrie was in the mall when the shooting took place and was one of the first to take to -Twitter to break the news.
“Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in Eaton Center mall ... Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... through traffic,” he tweeted. “People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow.”
Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were on the ground, he said.
Another victim said he was hit in the leg by a stray bullet.
“We had just gone shopping. We heard shots and hit the ground. A couple of seconds later I got hit,” said Nicholas, who declined to provide his last name in an interview on CP24 television as he left the hospital.
Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald’s in the mall’s food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits. Transit service around the mall was shut down for a time.
Kwong said police are in the process of reviewing security tapes. He said they had concluded a search of the mall.
The area around the mall was quickly blocked off after the shooting and the Eaton Center itself was evacuated and closed down. A portion of a major subway line, which services the mall, was also temporarily shut down.