Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre is in lockdown after gunfire rang out at the popular north-end mall Thursday afternoon.
Police received “a number of 911 calls” shortly before 3 p.m. ET Thursday reporting a shooting, Supt. Rob Johnson told reporters at the scene Thursday evening.
Investigators have determined that an altercation broke out between two groups of men in the southeast corner of the mall, he said. At one point, one of the men pulled out a gun and fired at least two shots.
The men fled the scene, he said. Earlier, police tweeted that they were seeking two men in their 20s, one of whom may be carrying a handgun.
Police said they are looking for at least two men believed to be in their 20s.
One is described as a black male wearing a hoodie or black jacket and blue jeans. The second is described as a mixed-race male around 5’9” tall, carrying a black handgun.
One woman who was having coffee with her daughter told that she heard a bang and assumed it was a balloon popping.
“We looked over and saw a bunch of panic, people running,” she said. “Then we heard the second shot and we had to find cover.”
The mother and daughter hid under a ledge. “There was a little girl who was just clenched onto me,” she said. “I had no idea who this little girl was.”
Minutes later, police asked them to exit across an open area, she said.
“I was scared for my daughter’s life,” she added. “I didn’t know what was going to happen during that run.”
The woman said she saw no one injured but a baby had been knocked out of a stroller during the panic.
Another witness, who works in the desert shop Nadege, said that she heard two shots and saw people running. She too said she saw a baby knocked to the ground.
“We’re all very shaken up. We just don’t know what to do,” she told CP24.
“We can’t leave because all of our stuff is inside … We have no TTC or taxi service … I’m still shaking .”
One man told that he was in the Arc’teryx store when he heard what sounded like two gunshots.
“The only thing we could think of was to get to the back of the store,” he said. “About 14 of us got holed up in the backroom of the store and we locked the doors, at which point we tried to get ahold of the police.”
The man said police eventually escorted them from the store.
“It was so surreal,” he added.
In a statement, Mayor John Tory said “people should not have to worry about gun violence,” no matter where they are in the city.
“There are too many guns available to criminals in the city and I am determined to end that with the help of our police and our government partners,” he said. “I am relieved that there are no reports of injuries from gunfire and I hope that remains true.”
Subway trains were not stopping at Yorkdale for hours after the incident but had resumed regular service by 6 p.m. ET, the Toronto Transit Commission said via Twitter. GO Transit, which has a depot in the area, continues to operate buses, but once customers get off at the Yorkdale stop they cannot enter the mall, according to a spokesperson.
Customers/employees can call Yorkdale Shopping Centre security 416-256-5097 to make arrangements to retrieve personal property if items behind when evacuating during firearm discharge incident.