Michael Lewis was at a downtown Toronto park Sunday evening, attending a memorial with his pregnant partner and two children, when he was shot and killed, investigators say.
Toronto police described the turbulent scene after Mr. Lewis was shot repeatedly. Some bystanders tried to revive him as he lay bleeding in Coronation Park, a waterfront spot near the Canadian National Exhibition, while others hid for safety or ran away. His assailants fled.
The victim was identified by police as a 30-year-old resident of Markham, Ont. Investigators believe he was targeted by people who appeared to know him.
“Four males approached Mr. Lewis,” Detective Amanda Thornton told reporters near the scene Monday afternoon.
“After a short conversation, our shooter pulled a handgun and fired multiple shots, striking Michael Lewis at close range. Mr. Lewis collapsed to the ground and the suspects fled the park northbound towards Lakeshore Boulevard.”
Asked to characterize the conversation, and whether it was an exchange that escalated into violence, the detective said “we don’t have any information that would lead us to believe there was any sort of argument.” She said the victim had a “dated [and] very minor criminal record” and she would not comment if there were known gang affiliations.
Mr. Lewis had come to the spot with his partner, whom police said was pregnant, and his two children. The family was there for a memorial to Kamal Hercules, who was killed nine years ago.
Alexis Medina, a Mississauga resident, was in the park with a friend who lives in the area and remembers hearing eight or 10 shots ring out. Panic broke out in the busy area, with people hitting the ground and then ducking for cover behind trees. A day later, the sight of a man and a woman fleeing with a pair of toddlers was still vivid in his mind.
“The look on the kids’ faces, it’s confusion and horror,” he said in a phone interview. “It was bad.”
The city is struggling with an abnormally high number of homicides this year, and this shooting was one of several killings in the Greater Toronto Area on the weekend. Mayor John Tory called the violence “deeply troubling” when asked about it at a campaign event on Monday morning.
“We’ve had a very challenging year when it comes to safety,” he said, arguing that there was no “magic answer” and that the best approach was to continue efforts to support the police, change the laws and invest in children and families. "It’s troubling but it’s not something where there’s some answer that people could just snap their fingers and make it go away.”
According to police, they received calls about gunshots in Coronation Park a bit after 6 p.m. on Sunday. First responders found the victim suffering from serious injuries and were unable to save his life. He was pronounced dead at the scene, where only moments before people had been enjoying a warm late-summer day.
“We estimate there was about 30 to 40 people that were attending this specific memorial that was at the pavilion here,” Det. Thornton said. “As far as the rest of the park, it was 6:15 in the afternoon on a busy, hot long weekend, with children in the area, so I would suspect that it was quite busy.”
Police are asking possible witnesses to come forward, and also for any video that people might have recorded in the area. The homicide squad is working out of 14 Division, which can be reached via 416-808-1400.