Man fatally shot by police near Toronto elementary school; SIU says BB gun recovered
One man is dead after being shot by police near an elementary school on Thursday afternoon, Toronto police said, prompting hundreds of children at nearby schools to go into lockdown.
Police were initially called to Maberley Crescent and Oxhorn Road for reports of a person carrying a rifle on the street around 1 p.m.
About 20 minutes later, paramedics were called to the corner of Lawrence Avenue East and Port Union Road for a reported shooting.
Police said two officers discharged their firearms at the suspect, striking the man at least once.
Video obtained from the scene shows officers cordoning off a section of Port Union Road. An orange tarp was seen covering something on the sidewalk.
At a press conference Thursday evening, Toronto police chief James Ramer called the incident "traumatic" for all involved.
"We certainly understand the trauma and how traumatic this must have been for staff, students and parents given the two recent events that have happened in the United States," he said.
"We will step up patrols in the area and continue to work with our school and community partners and services will be available for those that require those services."
A spokesperson from the Toronto Police Association confirmed two TPS officers were transported to hospital following the incident, but did not sustain physical injuries. No additional injuries were reported.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency responsible for investigating circumstances involving police that have resulted in a death or serious injury, has confirmed they have invoked their mandate following Thursday's incident. Four investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case, the agency said.
The SIU confirmed to CTV News Toronto Thursday evening that a BB gun was recovered at the scene.
"Whether the man was holding it or not, I'm not entirely certain at this point. But that will be something that the SIU investigators will be looking at," said Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the province's police watchdog.
When asked if there was an exchange of gunshots between police and the man, Denette said the available information does not indicate that the man fired at officers.
"SIU investigators right now are going door to door, looking to speak to anyone who might have photos or videos. And that being said, it would be great if anyone does have any information to please reach out to the SIU to assist with this," she said.
A young girl at William G. Davis told CP24 she was in her science class when the class received a message from the principal that they were going into lockdown.
“This is not a drill, get under your desks,” she recalled being told.
“Some of us were fiddling around, some of us were kind of scared. After 10 minutes I knew that this was not a drill.”
She said they were not told anything for a while, and unease grew inside the class.
“I thought someone was trying to break into the school – I was just saying to myself – probably it’s the end of it,” she said.
She and her classmates were later let out of the school.
Another witness told CP24 that they heard "three rapid shots" and then saw officers attempt to revive a male on the sidewalk.
That witness told CP24 officers told him they were searching for a male on a bicycle with a rifle in the area.
Joseph Howe Senior Public School, Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute, St. Brendan Catholic School and William G Davis Junior Public School were all initially placed under lockdown.
Charlottetown Junior Public School and Centennial Road Junior Public School were in hold and secures.
As of 3 p.m., all lockdowns and hold and secures had been lifted.
On Thursday evening, Premier Doug Ford responded to the incident via Twitter.
"Thank you to police and emergency services for your quick action today in Scarborough," the tweet reads. "We’re extremely grateful for everything you do to keep our communities safe."
Thank you to police and emergency services for your quick action today in Scarborough. We’re extremely grateful for everything you do to keep our communities safe.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) May 26, 2022
With files from CP24's Chris Herhalt.