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Toronto Suspects knew ‘who to look for’ in Toronto restaurant shooting

Michaels On Simcoe owner Michael Dabic said he heard the sound of five “very loud pops.”

Affan Chowdhry/The Globe and Mail

At a downtown Toronto steakhouse – the scene of a targeted shooting that injured two diners – owner Michael Dabic was inside the kitchen when the commotion began.

With no door separating the cooking area and the tables and booths where people were eating, the sound of five "very loud pops" startled him.

"While I was hearing it I was thinking, 'What kind of construction is going on?' I didn't think bullets," the 53-year-old said, standing next to an empty patio on Monday, the day after the shooting at Michael's On Simcoe in Toronto's entertainment district.

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The restaurant, a short walk from Roy Thomson Hall, is now closed to the public for repairs.

The shots on Sunday night were followed by screams and the sound of people running for cover. Mr. Dabic dialed 911, certain then that a violent incident was unfolding in his restaurant. Still on the phone, talking to emergency services, he stepped out of the kitchen into the dining area.

Less than 30 feet away, at a booth, a restaurant patron from a nearby table was attending to a wounded young woman lying on the bench. Her companion had also been shot.

"The guy who was shot, he was wounded, he was all bloody, but he was sitting upright. He was coherent. The girl was fading," Mr. Dabic said.

Toronto police say they are searching for two suspects in what they believe was a targeted shooting that injured two 28-year-olds – a man and a woman.

Police also said the suspects were wearing disguises – earlier described as masks – when the two were shot.

Mr. Dabic said he had heard similar accounts from witnesses – some saying the shooters wore hoods and masks. He added he did not see the two suspects or the shooting itself.

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The incident took place just before 10 p.m. inside his restaurant – a steakhouse with an Italian influence.

"My restaurant had three sections that were occupied. These guys [the suspects] knew where to go and who to look for. They weren't wandering around with guns. They were in and they were out," said Mr. Dabic, who opened the steakhouse three years ago.

Earlier in the evening, around 8:30 p.m., the owner had welcomed and seated the young Asian couple that had arrived without a reservation. Mr. Dabic remembered they had told him they live in the neighbourhood. At the time, there were about 40 people in the restaurant and fewer when the shooting occurred later in the evening.

"It's a shock, it's surreal. Like I've got my children who work here, my wife works here, my family. It's a Sunday – it's not like a crazy party where people have a fight and draw guns," he said.

His son Aidan, 17, had taken the night off from the restaurant kitchen to work on a school assignment, while his daughter Katya, 24, who works at the front desk and normally is on the restaurant floor on a Sunday, was also off after a busy period around the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival.

A week earlier, the restaurant was the site of an event connected to the film premiere of Black Mass that attracted industry officials and celebrities such as Kevin Bacon and Dakota Johnson.

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"We're going to recover; I hope these people survive and are well," said Mr. Dabic. "It's truly a family restaurant. It's a disaster for us that this thing happens," he added.

The names of the two individuals shot were not released. Initially, police said the woman's injuries were life-threatening but on Monday morning, police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said the injuries to both individuals were less serious.

A police appeal for witnesses to the shooting was met with more than 20 people stepping forward, and police are now asking for help from those who may have witnessed events leading up to and following the shootings – in particular outside the restaurant.

No names of the suspects have so far been released, and there is no information on a possible motive.

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