Police hunt for 2 men in Mississauga, Ont. restaurant blast, motive still unknown

Police are searching for two men in connection with the bombing of a restaurant in Mississauga, Ont., that wounded 15 people.

'This is certainly not anything you would expect to happen in Mississauga, not my Mississauga,' mayor says

Peel Regional Police released this security camera image of two men entering an Indian restaurant in Mississauga, Ont. They are believed to have set off an IED inside the establishment. (Peel Regional Police/Twitter)

Police are searching for two men who they say detonated a bomb inside the Bombay Bhel restaurant in Mississauga, Ont., that injured 15 people. 

A 35-year-old Brampton man, a 48-year-old Mississauga woman, and a 62-year-old Mississauga woman suffered critical  injuries and were rushed to a Toronto trauma centre, according to Peel Region paramedics. All three have since been released from hospital.

Peel Regional Police said Friday afternoon that the remainder of the victims who were treated for minor injuries ranged in age from 23 to 69.

For most of Friday, the normally busy shopping plaza where Bombay Bhel restaurant is located, was sealed off for the investigation.

The focus is now on finding the two men and identifying just what motivated the attack, which took place around 10:30 p.m. Thursday while two separate private parties were underway. Approximately 40 people were inside at the time, including several children under age 10. No children were hurt.

"I want to assure everyone that every police resource is being used to locate the people responsible for this horrendous act," Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans told reporters near the scene Friday morning. 
Investigators search for clues near the Bombay Bhel last month. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

According to police, two men entered the restaurant at 5035 Hurontario St. and detonated the device before fleeing eastbound on foot. It's believed the pair may have then gotten into a vehicle.

Police forces in the neighbouring regions of Halton, York and Durham have been notified, along with the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, Evans said. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was keeping "in close touch" with Peel police, who are leading the investigation.

Three of the wounded rushed to a Toronto trauma centre and now said to be in stable condition 1:17

"​There is no indication that this is a terrorist act, no indication that this is a hate crime," Evans said, adding that investigators have not yet ruled anything out.

'No indication that this is a terrorist act'

Goodale echoed that sentiment Friday, noting that it is early in the investigation.

Police said their forensic identification unit has processed much of the scene, but the restaurant remains closed as the investigation continues. Evans said there was a "considerable amount" of damage to the restaurant. She could not say where exactly inside the blast occurred. 

Nearby residences and part of a field a few hundred metres away from the restaurant had also been cordoned off. Police said all neighbouring businesses have since been released to their owners. 

 
A Peel Regional Police officer stands near evidence markers not far from the restaurant where police have found footprints. The discovery follows a blast from an IED at a Mississauga restaurant. (Paul Smith/CBC)

Earlier in the day, officers were seen photographing footprints left in a patch of soil as well as a pair of gloves. While it's unclear if the footprints are connected to the bombing, police appear to be treating them as evidence.

'Not the Mississauga I know'

At a news conference Friday, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie extended her sympathies to the victims, saying she was thankful there were no fatalities as a result of the "heinous" crime. 

"This is certainly not anything you would expect to happen in Mississauga, not my Mississauga. This is not the Mississauga I know.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said: 'This is certainly not anything you would expect to happen in Mississauga, not my Mississauga. This is not the Mississauga I know.' (CBC)

"Certainly, the people who have done this need to answer for their crimes and need to be brought to justice." 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concern on Twitter.

Restaurant calls bombing 'horrific' and 'sad'

In a statement on Facebook, Bombay Bhel restaurant condemned the bombing.

"It was an extremely horrific and sad incident that happened at our Hwy 10 location yesterday evening. We want to thank you for all of your support and well wishes, especially to the families that were affected," reads the post.
Bombay Bhel restaurant said in a Facebook post that the bomb was 'extremely horrific' and 'sad.' (Paul Smith/CBC)

Investigators are calling on the public to help them identify the two men captured on surveillance footage, and are appealing for any witnesses to come forward. They're also looking for any dashcam or other video that may be available.

The first is described as:

  • Around 5-10" to 6'
  • Stocky build.
  • In his mid-20s.
  • Wearing dark blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie pulled over his head, a baseball cap with a light grey peak, and his face was covered with dark material. 

The second male is:

  • Around 5-9" to 5-10".
  • Fair skin.
  • Thin build.
  • Faded blue jeans.
  • Dark zip-up hoodie, with brass coloured zipper, pulled over his head, along with a grey T-shirt and dark skate shoes, and his face covered with dark material.

"It appears they just went in, dropped off this device and took off right away," Peel police Sgt. Matt Bertram said.

Bertram said the type of device used isn't yet known.

"Until we can get in there and analyze the material after the search warrant, we won't be able to say what it was."

Tactical teams seen outside restaurant

On Thursday night, tactical teams could be seen outside the restaurant as people were loaded into ambulances. Police said they were there as a part of a "multi-unit" response.

Emergency crews were called to the restaurant at about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Witnesses described hearing a loud explosion and seeing people bleeding.

Rafael Conceicao, a student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was on the patio of a restaurant close to Bombay Bhel when he heard the explosion and rushed to help. 

"Glass was broken in the street. There was a child's birthday party," he said.

"Everything was destroyed. Lots of blood in the floor. Many people were screaming. They were trying to run out from the restaurant. There was a guy with glass inside his eyes. Many people were bleeding so much."

India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet that consular support was available. She said she was in touch with the Indian high commissioner in Canada and the consul general in Toronto about the incident.

The Consulate General of India in Toronto has set up a helpline. 
Peel paramedics took 15 people to hospital after the blast. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The leaders of Ontario's three main political parties, all in the midst of an election campaign, issued statements of sympathy and solidarity for those affected by the blast.

"We are all shocked and saddened by the news out of Mississauga," Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne wrote on Twitter,
adding she expected a briefing on the incident later in the day. "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and our thanks go out to the first responders."

Anyone who was in the restaurant or in the area, or has a dashboard camera or other video can call Peel police at 12 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 1233.

The injured range in age from 23 to 69 years. (Peel Regional Police/Twitter)

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Shanifa Nasser, The Canadian Press