TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto police said on Sunday they think they know the identity of the shooter who killed one person and wounded six others on Saturday in a rare outburst of major violence at the city’s main downtown mall.
Police also named the man killed: 24-year-old Toronto resident Ahmed Hassan, who they said may have had some gang affiliation.
“Our investigation clearly suggests that this is a targeted shooting and not a random act of violence against the members of the general public,” Brian Borg, a Toronto police detective, told a media briefing.
“Whether this is a gang motivated shooting has not been definitively determined. But I can say it is being closely looked at given that at least one of the victims has known gang associations.”
Police did not release a description of the suspect and said they did not want to contaminate the information they might still receive from the general public.
But the video footage they obtained from the mall “has been extremely fruitful in identifying the person that we believe is responsible for this shooting,” said Borg.
“The information that we’re moving forward with is that there is one gunman, and one gun,” he said.
A 23-year old man who was shot in the neck and chest remains in hospital in critical condition, police said.
Another victim, a 13-year-old boy who was visiting Toronto with his family, is also in hospital after being shot in the head. Borg said he is responding well to treatment and is in critical but stable condition.
Police said seven people in total were shot or grazed. The remaining victims have been discharged from or left the hospital.
A 28-year old pregnant woman who was knocked down in the melee that followed the shooting is still in hospital, but is doing well, police said.
The crime happened on Saturday evening in a food court at the Eaton Centre, one of the city’s top tourist destinations. Witnesses said they heard more than half a dozen shots, which triggered a rush to flee the building.
The mall, which remained closed on Sunday, was evacuated and quickly surrounded by dozens of police cars, emergency vehicles and forensic vans.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he believed police would make an arrest soon and urged residents to carry on as usual.
“This is a safe city and I want people to continue doing what they do every day, go out with their families, go shopping, have fun,” he said.
The incident revived memories of another shooting that happened just north of the Eaton Centre on December 26, 2005, Canada’s Boxing Day holiday, in which a 15-year-old girl was killed and several other people were wounded. That shooting was believed to be gang-related.
Canada has stringent controls on handguns and a lower rate of gun-related violence than the United States. But mass shootings are not unknown.
In 1989, a lone gunman targeting women killed 14 people at a Montreal university in what became known as the Montreal massacre.
Editing by Christopher Wilson