US & Canada

Toronto shooting: Gunman kills woman and child in Greektown

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A 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman have died after a gunman opened fire on a busy avenue in Canada's largest city, police say.

Thirteen other people, ranging in age between 10 and 59, were injured in the attack in the Greektown district of Toronto, police chief Mark Saunders told reporters.

The suspect, 29, had an exchange of gunfire with police officers before being found dead nearby.

The motive for the shooting is unknown.

Police have not identified the suspect, who was from Toronto, and it is unclear if he was killed by police gunfire or took his own life.

The attack happened on Sunday evening. In a video clip shared by Canadian media, a white man wearing a dark cap and dark clothing and carrying a shoulder bag can be seen stopping on a pavement and pulling out a handgun before firing shots.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent his sympathies to the victims and the city in a tweet, while Toronto Mayor John Tory condemned the "despicable" attack on "people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening".

Hours after the attack on Monday morning, a man allegedly tried to stab a member of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill, according to Ottawa police.

The man was apprehended and arrested, Department of National Defence official Daniel Le Bouthillie told the Otawa Citizen.

What happened in Toronto?

Emergency services were called out just after 22:00 (02:00 GMT Monday). The site of the attack is a piazza with a fountain that is popular with local people and was busy at the time, the Toronto Globe and Mail writes.

A number of people were reportedly hurt in a cafe called the Demetres, while others were hit in the street.

Det Sgt Terry Browne, who is leading the investigation into the shootings, told reporters on Monday that "some individuals have what may be described as life-changing injuries" following the attack.

According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which looks into incidents involving police which result in death, the gunman was tracked by officers to Bowden Street, a short distance from the cafe.

"An exchange of gunfire" then took place, before the man fled once more. He was found dead about 100m (328ft) away on Danforth Avenue.

Andrew Mantzios had been drinking coffee with friends by the fountain when he heard shots and turned around to see the gunman coming towards his group.

"He had this horrible expression on his face," Mr Mantzios was quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail.

The gunman fired at a crowd of people waiting to cross the street, he said.

"And then a lady tried to run and she fell down. He turned around and shot her point blank, two or three times."


Disbelief in one of Toronto's 'villages'

By Jessica Murphy, BBC News, Toronto

The Danforth - usually a busy strip for commuters - was quiet and empty on Monday morning.

Police tape cordoned off multiple blocks of the main commercial stretch as detectives continued their search for evidence.

"It's really terrible and unprecedented," says Anita Nador, who lives just blocks away from where the shooting took place.

The neighbourhood is the closest residential area to the city's downtown core and she says it's a close-knit community.

Image copyright Reuters

People who live near the Danforth know their local shopkeepers, know each other from the dog park or their children's school.

"People think of Toronto as a big city - nobody knows each other - but it's really a series of villages," she says.

While those I spoke with reacted with shock and disbelief regarding the news, many were all careful to note that Toronto is still one of the safest North American cities.

"You can't control the random acts," said Ms Nador.


Who are the victims?

So far, the only victim who has been identified is Reese Fallon, 18.

Local member of Parliament, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, confirmed that she was one of the two killed in the shooting.

Image copyright Courtesy Facebook/Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Image caption Reese Fallon

Mr Erskine Smith told media that the family was "devastated" and was asking for privacy at this time.

"She was a local young Liberal, smart, passionate and full of energy," the Liberal MP told the BBC in a statement.

"It is a huge loss."

Ms Fallon was a recent high school graduate and, in a statement, the Toronto District School Board said they were "heartbroken" by the news.

The school board said she "was highly regarded by staff and loved by her friends".

According to her Facebook profile, she was about to begin studying at McMaster University.

What do we know of the attacker?

Very little. Toronto police have not named him, or given any details other than his age (29) and the fact he was from the city.

Police chief Saunders told reporters that, as yet, they "don't know why this has happened".

It is unclear whether he was shot by police or killed himself with his gun.

A post-mortem examination is planned for Tuesday, according to SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon.

Jessica Young, an employee at the Second Cup cafe, said she had seen the gunman's face before he fired through the window.

She told the Toronto Star newspaper: "He was probably no taller than me, wearing a black baseball cap, dark clothes. He had light skin. I think he had short facial hair. That's all I could make out."

Nobody was hurt in her cafe, she added.

Is Toronto known for gun violence?

Gun violence is much rarer in Canada than over the border in the US, but Toronto has seen attacks increase dramatically in recent years.

Shootings in the city over a holiday weekend earlier this month led to Mayor Tory saying he was working to get more police patrolling the streets.

Police data also shows the number of shootings in Toronto more than doubled between 2014 and 2017 - from 177 to 395.

Mr Trudeau's ruling Liberal party wants tougher background checks, including screening people with a history of violence.

Gun control has often sparked divisive debates in Canada, which has a large rural population where guns are widely owned and used.

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