Toronto police have confirmed that the two victims of a shooting at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre last weekend had gang ties.
Det. Rob North told reporters that 23-year-old Michael Nguyen and a 24-year-old friend were ambushed around 8 p.m. on Mar. 30 as they left the mall, where they had been shopping and eating.
Both men were hit during an initial volley of shots, but managed to run toward their car, Det. North said. As he tried to outpace his attackers, Mr. Nguyen fell to the ground, where he was then slain “execution-style.”
The other victim, who police are not yet naming, has since been released from hospital.
Both men were affiliated with the Asian Assassins street gang, believed to be based in Alexandra Park, Det. North said.
Early in the investigation, police stated that an altercation inside the mall may have touched off the melee. But after reviewing security footage and speaking with numerous witnesses, police have seen nothing that would have sparked the shooting.
“Even though this is likely a gang incident, there is no suggestion that the two victims returned fire or did anything to provoke this incident at the mall,” he said.
“In my opinion, someone must have known they were at the Yorkdale mall and were waiting outside in the parking lot in ambush for them to return to their motor vehicle.”
Det. North would not say whether Mr. Nguyen or his companion were armed.
Mr. Nguyen had been involved in violent activity stretching back to 2005, when he was convicted of an armed home invasion in Windsor. Posing as a disoriented pizza delivery man, he knocked on the door of a couple he believed was hoarding a large sum of money. When the home-owner answered, Mr. Nguyen, then 16 years of age, pulled a gun.
One of co-accused in the Windsor case, Qoheleth Chong, was shot and killed in Toronto last November.
“Our investigation to this point has not revealed a connection to any other murder,” Det. North said.