Crowds dispersed in panic after gunshots were heard in downtown Toronto at Monday’s rally for the Raptors NBA Championship win.
Word of the shooting just before 4 p.m. sent a section of the crowd into a stampede, with people screaming and hiding in nearby bushes.
Four people sustained “injuries related to the shooting,” police said in a statement Monday evening. One woman was among those injured. It’s unclear how many people were shot.
Toronto police arrested three people and recovered two firearms. There are no remaining suspects, police spokesperson Constable David Hopkinson confirmed, though police are continuing their investigation.
Police have set up a website where anyone with photos or video of the incident can upload their material.
Mayor John Tory thanked police and others who leapt in to help. “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,” Mr. Tory said in a statement.
On the stage in Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall, speeches were briefly interrupted. Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer, urged the crowd to stay calm.
Tara O’Brady, who was at the parade with her sons, said she felt that there was a lack of visible police presence and information, such as where first-aid stations were located. Her 11-year-old son was swept by the crowd during a moment of panic and fell over a folding chair, only to have other people topple on him.
“It felt more like a free-for-all and I was a little bit taken aback by that,” said Ms. O’Brady, a freelance writer for The Globe and Mail. “It felt very hands-off in comparison to events we’d been to in the past.”
Isiah Chambers, who was watching the celebration from the top of a small building at the corner of the square, had a first-hand view of the incident. He said he heard two shots, sparking a rush along Queen Street, as the police chased a suspect toward the Eaton Centre.
“It was chaos. It was like Gotham City,” he said.
Another witness inside the Eaton Centre saw a group of officers erupt through a mall entrance and apprehend a man. John Wright, who took his daughter to the parade, said he saw the officers run into the mall with their guns drawn and begin evacuating the area.
At around 4:30 p.m., a procession of police Emergency Task Force SUVs pushed through the crowd gathered at Yonge Street. A heavily armed officer wearing tactical gear and a balaclava emerged briefly before re-embarking.
The area around Nathan Phillips Square was littered with trash and awash with a steady stream of people dispersing after the incident. Some chattered nervously into their phones, trying to reunite with people from whom they were separated during the chaos.
Matthew Weintraub was standing near Old City Hall, east of Nathan Phillips Square, watching the event on a big screen with friends when the shooting happened.
“We heard gunshots behind us and we just got trampled over,” he said.
The 19-year-old said he hopes the incident doesn’t overshadow the celebration.
“I’m so proud of the Raptors, I’m so happy they won. I don’t want to take pride away from the city,” he said.
With reports from Jeff Gray, Laura Stone, Maria Iqbal and The Canadian Press
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