Police make arrest in 'senseless' murder of man in Toronto parking lot

Police have made an arrest in the murder of a 36-year-old Ajax, Ont. man who they say was "senselessly" shot in a Toronto plaza parking lot early Saturday morning over a chain that he was wearing around his neck.

Investigators say that the victim, identified as Peter Oscar Khan, was in a parking lot at the rear of a plaza near Sheppard and Morningside avenues at around 3 a.m. on Saturday when the suspect approached him, ripped a chain off his neck at gunpoint and shot him.

Police allege that the suspect “casually” walked away from the scene after the shooting but soon found another victim in the same parking lot, who was also wearing a chain. It is alleged that the suspect shot that victim as well and made off with the jewelry, ultimately getting into a vehicle and driving away.

Both men were rushed to hospital after the shootings. Khan was pronounced dead shortly after arrival while the other victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released.

Police say that investigators have since determined that the same suspect is also responsible for a third “chain rip” robbery committed in the Kennedy and Ellesmere roads area about 90 minutes prior to the shootings. There were no injuries reported as a result of that robbery.

“This was a very, very tragic incident, a senseless act of violence,” Det. Sgt. Tiffany Castell told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday morning. “To have three robberies, individuals held at gunpoint happen in the span of 90 minutes and to have someone lose their life so senselessly is really devastating and I am just so thankful we were able to bring this to a successful conclusion in the sense that we are able to seek justice. But that doesn’t bring Mr. Khan back and that doesn’t bring any comfort to the community in the sense that they lost someone who they really loved.”

Police released surveillance camera images of the suspect and a vehicle that he is believed to have fled the scene in within about 24 hours of the shootings.

Castell said that a “keen-eyed officer” with the 41 Division Community Response Unit then spotted the suspect vehicle in a parking lot at Kennedy and Ellesmere roads late Sunday afternoon, not far from where the earlier robbery took place.

She said that police were in the process of seizing the vehicle when a suspect showed up and attempted to get inside. He subsequently took off on foot but was apprehended about 15 minutes later following a foot pursuit.

He was initially charged with robbery-related offences and held in custody for a period of 72 hours but on Tuesday police added a charge of first-degree murder in connection with Khan’s death.

Castell said that police are continuing to investigate but do not believe Khan was targeted for any reason other than robbery.

“It was property jewelry that was taken from the deceased’s neck and that is why he lost his life, because of a chain he had around his neck sadly,” she said.