A gunman has opened fire in a busy food court at one of Canada’s best known shopping malls, Toronto’s Eaton’s Centre,
killing a 25-year-old man and leaving seven others injured, police said.
“The nature of the wounds indicate this individual was targeted,” said Toronto police chief Bill Blair on Saturday. “The others were innocent bystanders.”
Police were hunting for the suspect based on a description from eyewitnesses, Blair said.
Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak, reporting from Vancouver said that witnesses said that a young man pulled out a gun and shot another man “directly in the chest” before firing up to 15 shots.
Hundreds of panicked shoppers sprinted for the exits following the shooting, and some people, including a pregnant woman sustained injuries after being trampled on and pushed, said Lak. The mall was then evacuated.
Swarms of people watched from outside as an injured man with visible bullet wounds was wheeled out on a stretcher.
The wounded, some of whom were in serious condition, were being treated at local hospitals. They included a 13-year-old boy. Also hurt was a pregnant woman, who escaped the bullets but was knocked down in the ensuing stampede.
Two of the injured were in critical condition.
Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Brett Lawrie tweeted that he sprinted out of the mall after hearing the shots.
“People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were … Wow wow wow,” Lawrie tweeted.
Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were on the ground, he said
“All of a sudden a herd of people were just running toward us, a massive crowd of people screaming, running, freaking out,” said Hannah Stewart, 21, who was shopping in the mall at the time.
“We saw this girl, sitting on the ground, and she had blood on her toes.”
That girl appeared to have been one of the victims and told Stewart she had just been shot.
Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald’s in the mall’s food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits.
In 2005, a 15-year-old girl was killed during the Christmas holidays just north of the mall in a shooting that shocked the city during a year of record gun deaths in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.