Innocent bystander shot dead outside Toronto bar

A shooting at a Toronto bar has left one innocent bystander dead and four other people injured, police said Saturday.

A shooting at a Toronto bar has left a woman dead and four other people injured, police said Saturday.

Shots were fired during an argument between two men outside the Duke of York tavern on Toronto's Queen Street East around 1 a.m.

A gunman allegedly fired a semi-automatic pistol toward the crowded bar, shattering its front window and hitting three women and two men, all believed to be in their 20s.

"All hell broke loose, and I heard the shots ring out and people falling down," said one witness who did not want to have his name published.

The woman killed was smoking outside the entrance of the bar when she was shot, Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux said at a news conference.

She "had nothing whatsoever to do with the altercation that was taking place between the male patron and the suspect," Giroux said.

The other four victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Among them was the gunman's intended target.

The dead woman, Toronto's 60th homicide this year, lived in the city but her family does not, Giroux said. Police are still trying to contact her relatives before announcing her identity.

Fourth bystander killed this year

There were about a dozen people just outside the tavern at the time of the shooting.

Police were still searching for the suspect Saturday afternoon. Giroux said they hope to make a quick arrest as most of the bar's patrons are familiar with one another.

The deceased woman is the fourth innocent bystander killed by a stray bullet in Toronto this year — a disturbing trend that's "unfortunately happening over and over again," Giroux said.  

He compared her killing to the case of Jane Creba, a bystander who was gunned down near Yonge and Dundas streets on Boxing Day in 2005, as well as Hou Chang Mao, who was shot dead as he worked at a Gerrard Street supermarket earlier this year.

While the killing of innocent people isn't entirely preventable, criminal lawyer Edward Sapiano said the number of incidents in Toronto is just too high.

A lack of front-line officers is putting Canadians at risk, Sapiano told CBC News.

"We must be doing a better job than what we're doing today."

Mayor defends policing level

But Toronto Mayor David Miller said Saturday's early-morning shooting shouldn't raise concerns about the level of policing in the city.

"We have 450 more police officers on the street, and they're on the street in neighbourhoods building partnerships, preventing crime," he said.

Some critics suggest that is not enough.

"They don't have it under control. I mean, you saw what happened," a witness to the shooting said.

A post-mortem exam was scheduled for Sunday.

In another incident, a man was in stable condition Saturday night after being shot several times.

Police said the man, 21,was shot in the legs four times about 5:30 p.m. The incident occurred Saturday around Bathurst Street and Lakeshore Boulevard.

One man was immediately arrested, while two others are being sought by police.

With files from the Canadian Press