Three people are in custody after a shooting injured four and caused a small stampede at the crowded Raptors championship victory celebration in downtown Toronto.
The shooting happened at around 3:30 p.m. near Queen Street and Bay Street, between the Toronto Eaton Centre and Nathan Philips Square, just after the basketball team arrived for a celebration rally in the square.
Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said there was a “very large police presence” in the area when the shooting occurred.
“We were able to get to the victims, we were able to get medical help to them ... and we were able to make those arrests very, very quickly,” he told CP24.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters that the four gunshot victims all have non-life-threatening injuries. He said that two firearms were recovered and the investigation is ongoing.
Chief Saunders said he was unaware of any people trampled and took issue with reports that a stampede had occurred, calling it “a small burst of people that were scared.”
Saunders appealed to members of the public who may have witnessed the shooting or have relevant photos and videos.
“This happened in broad open spaces. Right now where we had over 1 million people here,” he told reporters just after 6 p.m. “We want the witnesses ... to step up and help us.”
Toronto police provided a special portal where potential witnesses can upload photos and video. They said anyone with information should call police at 416-808-5200 or contact Crime Stoppers.
CTV Toronto’s Scott Lightfoot was metres away from the shooting when it took place. He said many people panicked and fled, leaving behind sunglasses, shoes and baby carriages.
Celeste Anderson was among those injured in the chaos. She was standing inside Nathan Philips Square near Queen and Bay streets when she heard loud screaming and saw “a pile of people” coming toward her.
“The group that I was surrounded with ended up falling on top of me. I had roughly about four to five people suffocating me on the bottom of the crowd,” she told CTV News Channel.
“I didn’t know what was happening,” she added. “Someone was on my ankle which ended up getting twisted and someone was stepping on my arm for quite a while.”
Anderson said it took about 30 minutes to find a medic, who told her that her ankle might be fractured. She said she saw many other people who also appeared injured.
Officials paused the celebrations to tell the crowd of “an emergency situation” in the area and urged everyone to stay calm, but the celebration on stage was able to continue.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked police, paramedics and Toronto Transit Commission constables for their “quick and decisive action.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory also thanked first responders. In a statement, he called the shooting an “unfortunate” incident “after an otherwise spectacularly successful day.”
“It is disappointing and I'm sure a source of anger for more than just me that anyone would carry a gun and discharge it at what was otherwise a joyous celebration,” the mayor said.
Not far away, four people were injured in two stabbings, according to Toronto police.
The first stabbing occurred just after 2 p.m. near Yonge-Dundas Square. The victim was transported to hospital with serious injuries.
The second incident occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m. near Queen and Bay. Police said there were reports of a fight near the entrance to a store and that three men were stabbed. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.