Police hunt for 2 men in Mississauga, Ont. restaurant blast, motive still unknown
'This is certainly not anything you would expect to happen in Mississauga, not my Mississauga,' mayor says
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
We're in solidarity with the victims of this violence, and wish a swift recovery to the injured. We’re working closely with police and officials in Mississauga on this. <a href="https://t.co/AQBuFZPXNY">https://t.co/AQBuFZPXNY</a>—@JustinTrudeau
Restaurant calls bombing 'horrific' and 'sad'
In a statement on Facebook, Bombay Bhel restaurant condemned the bombing.
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.
2nd male described as 5’9”-5’10”, fair skin, thin build, faded blue jeans, dark zip-up hoodie hood pulled over head, grey t-shirt, dark coloured skate shoes, face covered. Looking for public’s assistance in identifying the parties that fled following the explosion.—@PeelPoliceMedia
"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.
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 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.
Explosion: Multiple people injured following reports of an explosion at Bambay Bhel Restaurant 5035 Hurontario St near Eglinton in Mississauga. <a href="https://t.co/1Tb9ODag88">pic.twitter.com/1Tb9ODag88</a>—@LateNightCam
The Consulate General of India in Toronto has opened a helpline in view of the explosion at an Indian restaurant in Mississauga. For any assistance, pl call +1-647-668-4108.—@IndiainToronto
With files from Muriel Draaisma, Shanifa Nasser, The Canadian Press