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Toronto Toronto lawyer wounded in shooting baffled by attack, colleague says

Paramedics wheel away shooting victim Randall Barrs in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2016.

Peter Schilling/CP

The lawyer struck by two bullets in downtown Toronto this week did not recognize his attacker and is baffled as to why any gunman would target him.

Randall Barrs, a prominent lawyer in the city, took two shots to the legs when a gunman disguised as a construction worker ambushed him outside his office on Tuesday.

Initial speculation pointed to a disgruntled client as the likely culprit, but Mr. Barrs has told friends the alleged shooter is unfamiliar.

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"He definitely does not know any reason or anyone who would be behind such an assault on him," said Patrick Ducharme, a lawyer in Windsor, Ont., and a colleague and golf partner of Mr. Barrs. "He knows nothing. He says he still has all kinds of questions himself."

On Wednesday, 15 charges were laid against 51-year-old Grayson Delong, a GTA man with a long history of petty crime. The charges include attempted murder and a variety of gun offences.

Mr. Ducharme spoke to his golf buddy shortly after the shooting, while Mr. Barrs was recuperating in hospital. The two men recently worked on a big marijuana case together, and Mr. Ducharme said he could discern little difference between the composed courtroom operator he knew and the man who had just faced down a hail of gunfire.

"He was the same guy I always knew: cool, calm, collected."

Mr. Barrs also recounted the terrifying sequence of events that ended only when undercover officers from Halton Regional Police Service swooped in and shot the gunman. The Halton officers, whose jurisdictional boundaries end a 40-kilometre drive west of the crime scene, were conducting surveillance in the area.

The lawyer had been loading items into the back of his car when a man in a construction vest approached. The gunshots were so unexpected that he failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

"He didn't realize he was shot at first," Mr. Ducharme said. "He was able to make his way to the office. Then he found out the police were there."

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His injuries were not life-threatening. Mr. Barrs was recovering at home by the next day.

The sole practitioner missed some work, but the Criminal Lawyers' Association stepped in to offer the free services of lawyers to ask for adjournments in his absence.

"We just offered to have some lawyers assist him with anything he might need," association president Anthony Moustacalis said.

Remarkably, Mr. Barrs, 66, could be back working as early as next week.

"He's got work to do and he's going to do his work," Mr. Ducharme said. "He's a tough guy; he's tough-minded and he's tough physically. He's up for this. I just hope the police can find whoever's behind this and he gets a chance to make that person or persons pay for this."

But that resolve does not mean he is blind to new security risks.

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"He legitimately has concerns for his family members," Mr. Ducharme said. "If his family is around him and he's in danger, then they're in danger."

The Special Investigations Unit, the provincial agency responsible for probing any shootings involving police in the province, has taken over the investigation into the Halton police shooting.

On Thursday, Mr. Delong appeared before a judge in hospital to hear the charges.

He is also facing break-and-enter charge in Peel Region related to an earlier incident.

His next scheduled appearance is Sept. 26.

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