Toronto police shoot dead man walking near school with rifle

‘I was feeling really tense,’ says student whose school was locked down during incident

Shweta Sharma
Friday 27 May 2022 09:06 BST
Related: Schoolboy recounts horrors of Texas school shooting, says ‘we were all panicking’

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Louise Thomas

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Toronto police shot dead a man who was carrying a firearm near an elementary school on Thursday.

The incident, which came two days after a teenage gunman killed 21 people in Texas, US, prompted snap lockdowns for all schools in the vicinity and sparked fears among hundreds of students.

Officers responded to calls shortly before 1pm on Thursday about a man in his late teens or early 20s carrying a rifle in the Scarborough area in eastern Toronto.

Police chief James Ramer said in a media briefing that the officers fired after the gunman confronted them.

“Police were confronted by an individual and because of circumstances that followed are now the subject of an SIU (Special Investigations Unit) investigation. I’m prohibited from discussing further what occurred,” Mr Ramer said.

Investigators have declined to give information on the circumstances surrounding the incident, and if the man was armed when he was shot.

The SIU, a police watchdog, said “there was an interaction” and at some point, two officers fired at the suspect, hitting him at least once, CNN reported.

Witnesses saw paramedics attempting to revive the man but the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

An emergency lockdown was ordered for at least five schools as a precautionary measure, but lifted after a couple of hours, according to the Toronto District School Board.

Tornoto police at the scene where officers shot dead a suspect who was walking down a street carrying a gun
Tornoto police at the scene where officers shot dead a suspect who was walking down a street carrying a gun (Reuters)

The spot where the man was shot was just about 130m from the William G Davis Junior Public School, one of the schools that was locked down.

Inaaya Zaman, who is in fifth grade at William G Davis, told CBS that they got worried once they realised the lockdown was not a drill as it lasted longer than 20 minutes.

“There was a mass shooting in Texas and that was really sad, so knowing about this person that is armed, it feels like they were going to shoot the school and I was feeling really tense,” she said.

Grayson Ryder, another student, said the principal had told them to stay quiet, and a third grader was later found hiding.

Officer Ramer said it was an isolated incident and there was no further threat to public safety. However, police would increase patrols in the area, he added.

“I certainly understand the trauma and how traumatic this must have been for staff, students and parents, given the recent events that have happened in the United States,” Mr Ramer said, referring to the Texas shooting.

But he added that he did not want to “speculate and suggest that it’s something similar to what’s happening in the United States”.

The incident comes as the police response has come under question in Texas, which dealt with its worst shooting in a decade earlier this week.

The US is also still investigating another mass shooting incident, involving a racist attack in a supermarket in Buffalo New York. Ten people were killed and the gunman was arrested.

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