The doors had just closed for the night at an upscale Toronto nightclub when deadly gunfire erupted outside.
Jelena Loncar, 31, was shot shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday in front of C Lounge on Wellington Street West, near Spadina Avenue. She was pronounced dead at hospital.
The shooting also sent a man to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Ms. Loncar, who is originally from Croatia and was living in Toronto, worked as a bartender at the downtown bar Hunters Landing since it opened in September last year, her manager Courtney Forbes said. She had left work after finishing a shift before she was killed just a few blocks away.
“We’re all kind of a mess here,” Ms. Forbes said. “She was always so liked in the restaurant. Always comes in smiling and making everyone really happy.”
She said she doesn’t know anyone that would want to hurt Ms. Loncar.
“It really says that really bad things happen to really good people,” Ms. Forbes said.
Ms. Loncar had previously worked at Casino Niagara and graduated from Everest College in 2008, according to her Facebook profile. Her family gathered in Niagara Falls upon hearing news of her death.
Ms. Loncar’s aunt, Milka Loncar, said the young woman had cared for her after she suffered a heart attack. She said her niece often travelled to her home in Windsor to give her money or help with problems she encountered due to a language barrier.
“She take care of me. I’m a sick person,” Ms. Loncar said tearfully, adding that her niece sent flowers when she was in the hospital in June. “She was the best one.”
The male victim, who is 25 years old, was found about 300 metres away at a Shell gas station and transported to hospital.
Footage from a Globe and Mail security camera shows a man walking east along the sidewalk toward the gas station shortly after the shooting. At one point, the man lifts his shirt and appears to look at his abdomen. He glances behind himself, sits down briefly and then continues walking. It is not known whether the man in the video is the victim.
Hours later, a long trail of blood drops could be seen on the same sidewalk, continuing diagonally across Wellington toward the gas station. Forensics officers placed several small orange cones tracing the male victim’s apparent path after he was shot.
Detective Robert Choe said investigators have not yet determined the intended target of the shooting. They also do not know if the victims knew each other. He said the male victim was known to police, but declined to elaborate.
“All I know is we’ve got two victims. Whether they were both intended, one of them was intended or neither of them was intended … our team has yet to establish that,” he said. “This [is] an arduous task. We’ve got to comb over all the information and the evidence that we have and that’ll hopefully give us some answers.”
Det. Choe said police do not have any suspect information or know whether the shooter or shooters travelled in a vehicle. He said investigators were combing security footage for clues.
“Although a few hours have passed by, for us it’s still early,” he said. “An influx of information is coming in and again we’ve got to evaluate it and determine what is related and what is not.”
A waitress at C Lounge, who was still rattled hours later and didn’t want to give her name, was cleaning up on the patio after handling the club’s bottle service when she heard one gunshot followed by three more around 3:11 a.m.
“It’s so random. I definitely didn’t expect the night to end like that,” she said.
The waitress said the crowd had been typically calm. Mondays are known as industry night at C Lounge, a time for workers in the city’s hospitality industry to unwind.
“This is the last club I would ever, ever expect to see anything happen in,” she said, as she waited for police to open the street so she could retrieve her vehicle.
Pat Di Donato, vice-president of Liberty Entertainment Group, which owns the nightclub, said the female victim was waiting outside the club at the time of the shooting.
“It’s shocking. It hurts. We’ve never had stuff like this happen,” he said.
Mr. Di Donato said officers obtained video surveillance from the club’s security cameras, one of which overlooks the crime scene.
“Hopefully, we’ll see if it was a drive-by or whatever. It’s pretty shocking and upsetting,” he said.