Toronto police are looking for two men they say are persons of interest in the wake of separate shootings early Tuesday morning that left two people dead and three others injured.
The shootings, which Deputy Chief Peter Sloly called a "brazen, large-scale" incident, took place at and around the after-party for the sixth annual OVO Fest, a three-day music festival hosted by Toronto rapper Drake. Shots rang out at the Muzik nightclub, the after-party venue, just after 3 a.m. One man was shot and killed on the nightclub patio, and another man and a woman standing outside the patio fence were injured.
At a second scene by the Dufferin Gates, northwest of the nightclub on Toronto's Exhibition grounds, a woman was shot and taken to hospital, where she later died. An injured man was also found at Dufferin and College Streets, and police say he may have been transported there from the nightclub by someone else.
A similar incident occurred in front of Muzik after OVO Fest last summer, when a 28-year-old man suffered serious injuries after being shot.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, homicide Inspector Peter Moreira said the "celebrity aspect" of the event was not a point of focus for investigators. He said police are still trying to piece together the sequence of events in an investigation he described as a "living, breathing organism."
"Five people were shot today and that's just unacceptable," he said. "Our investigators are paying attention to trying to figure out who did this so that we can hold them responsible."
The names of the victims had not been released late Tuesday. Insp. Moreira said both of the deceased were in their early to mid-20s. Of the injured, one person had been released from hospital.
Police are asking anyone who has photos or videos from either scene at any point in the night to upload them via a webpage they created specifically for the investigation.
Insp. Moreira said there were thousands of people in the area and police were faced with a "crush of people" fleeing the scene. Because of the large crowd, 10 armed officers had been assigned to supplement security for the night. In a statement, Muzik said it had "73 professionally trained" security guards on duty, which included "15 specially trained guards who conduct body searches, including the use of metal-detecting wands, on all patrons entering the property."
Julia Medina was at Muzik celebrating her 21st birthday when chaos erupted, with people running for the doors after hearing gunshots. Ms. Medina and her friends grabbed each other's hands and went with the rushing crowd.
"Security was pushing everyone, saying, 'Get out, run.' And we all started running, everybody – packs of people started running out the exit."
She said she didn't hear until about half an hour later that someone had been killed at the party, but she was surprised more people weren't hurt. "The person definitely had a chance to shoot up the whole club if they wanted to … there were so many people," she said. "They could have done way more damage."
Ms. Medina said security at the club's entrance seemed particularly thorough, with a security guard checking all the contents of her purse and makeup bag, and even confiscating a pair of nail clippers she was carrying.
Insp. Moreira said it still isn't clear how someone brought a gun into the club. He said investigators haven't determined whether the two shootings are related, but the close proximity of the scenes has led them to believe there may be a connection.
He described the person of interest in the Muzik shooting as a black man in his mid-20s, six feet tall, with a buzzcut. He was wearing a light purple crewneck sweater with colourful design on the front and dark blue jeans.
The second person of interest is described as a man with brown skin and a skinny build, approximately 5-foot-10 and 24 to 28 years old, wearing a yellow and burgundy plaid button-up shirt.
With a report from The Canadian Press