A Toronto Transit Commission fare collector has been shot in the neck during a robbery attempt Sunday at Dupont subway station.
The fare collector, a long-time employee in his mid-50s, suffered serious injuries and was undergoing surgery Sunday night.
The robbery attempt occurred around 7:20 p.m. The employee triggered an alarm inside his fare collector’s booth and was shot “a couple of times,” according to the TTC’s acting general manager, Andy Byford.
The gunman fled on foot. Police arrived at the station’s Dupont and Spadina entrance shortly after the alarm was triggered but it’s believed the suspect ran north after returning to street level. Within 20 minutes, police were fanning out across the neighbourhood just north of the Annex in search of the suspect. No arrests have been made. Police sealed off a desolate parking lot north of the station near George Brown college and were combing through nearby garbage bins and laneways.
“I’m shocked by what has happened tonight,” Mr. Byford said. “I will not have people attacking my staff.”
Mr. Byford arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting and was briefed by his employees inside the police cordon. He was only recently elevated to the TTC’s top job after Gary Webster was dismissed last week.
He said he would be going to the hospital immediately to offer his support to the wounded fare collector and his family. He did not know what condition the employee was in, except to say that he hoped it was not life threatening.
“We understand that he is undergoing surgery at the hospital. That’s as much as I know.”
Mr. Byford said it was not clear whether the collector was shot through the glass or whether he was outside the ticket booth when he was hit. He had not been allowed to descend to the underground concourse where the shooting took place. He said the incident was almost certainly captured by closed-circuit surveillance cameras. Police forensics officers were on scene Sunday night to recover the evidence.
Mr. Byford said the transit network immediately stepped up security at all its stations and will review its security measures at a meeting Monday morning.
“We have CCTV monitoring our collector booths, we have limited the amount of cash that’s held in booths, but clearly we need to revisit those arrangements and that’s what we’re going to do first thing,” he said.
Fare collectors are instructed not to resist a robbery attempt, according to TTC protocol.
“If there is an attempted robbery, they’re not to put up any resistance. They’re to put their own safety first so they’re to operate the alarm, which we believe happened in this instance. But I’d rather lose the money than to lose one of my collectors,” Mr. Byford said.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, Mayor Rob Ford said: “I'm deeply saddened to learn what occurred at the Dupont Subway station earlier this evening. I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the TTC collector during this most difficult time.”