International student injured in deadly GTA shootings not expected to survive: police
Investigators appealing for information about suspect Sean Petrie
A 28-year-old international student injured in Monday's shootings across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area remains on life support and is not expected to survive, Halton Police Chief Steve Tanner told reporters on Thursday.
The man was working at an auto body shop in Milton when he was shot. The owner of the shop, Shakeel Ashraf, 38, was killed, while Toronto police Const. Andrew Hong, 48, was fatally shot about half an hour earlier in Mississauga. Two other victims were also shot over the course of the afternoon and sustained various degrees of injuries.
Police have identified Sean Petrie, 40, as the suspect in the shootings. Petrie himself was later killed during an encounter with police in the Hamilton Cemetery.
Tanner spoke to media at a news conference alongside Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. Officials provided more details about the series of shootings that unfolded over several hours on Monday afternoon and appealed to the public for information about Petrie.
Petrie had a long criminal history that included convictions for assault, armed robbery and other violent offences, Duraiappah said. In 2007 he was placed on a national registry as someone with a high likelihood to reoffend in connection with an incident two years earlier.
He was estranged from his family, Duraiappah added, and was briefly employed at the auto shop owned by Ashraf.
Petrie allegedly used a handgun in the shootings, which is now in the possession of Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, as part of their probe into his fatal interaction with police in a Hamilton cemetery.
Investigators are still trying to piece together a clear motive for the shootings, though they believe Hong — the first of the victims to be shot — was targeted because he was a uniformed police officer.
Hong was inside a Tim Hortons location on Argentia Road in Mississauga at the time. He was in Peel for a joint training exercise and was on his lunch break. He had gone to get coffee for his colleagues when he was ambushed by Petrie and shot at close range at around 2:15 p.m., Duraiappah said.
Police said he attempted to disarm Hong before shooting him. Hong was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to investigators, Petrie had been at the coffee shop for about two hours and 15 minutes beforehand. He arrived in a red Toyota Corolla with licence plate CXMM 077 and parked in an adjacent lot before entering. The car was registered to Petrie, police said. Investigators believe he had been living in the vehicle.
Petrie then stole another vehicle and shot the driver. That victim is in stable condition in hospital, but suffered "life altering" injuries, said Duraiappah.
Petrie then drove to the Milton auto shop, where at around 2:50 p.m. he shot Ashraf and two employees — the international student and a 43-year-old man who has since been released from hospital.
Afterward, Petrie made his way to Hamilton, though police said they are not sure why. At around 4:30 p.m., officers from Halton and Hamilton encountered him in a cemetery and Petrie was killed.
In her comments to the media, Crombie stressed that employees of Tim Hortons and the auto shop, as well as civilians who witnessed the shootings, were left deeply traumatized and said support services are available to them.
'I was just waiting to die': victim
MK Auto Repairs employee Muhammad Shiraz Afzal says on a regular day, you can usually hear the sounds of hammering and welding in the auto shop.
This past Monday, it took only moments before he and a customer he was helping realized the sounds they heard were actually someone firing a gun.
Afzal remembers Petrie appearing "very aggressive." He says Petrie fired multiple shots — one went between his legs, another missed his head, and a third lodged itself in his leg.
A bullet struck the international student, who Afzal said was trying to run away. It was only when he heard the gun click empty did he himself try to escape.
"I was just putting my head down on the desk, and I was just waiting to die," Afzal told CBC Toronto.
Afzal says his boss was a very kind and caring person who would work on people's cars, even if they couldn't afford to pay for the service right away.
Funeral for officer to be held Wednesday
Toronto police say funeral services for Hong will be held Sept. 21 at noon.
The funeral is not open to the public, but those wishing to pay their respects are invited to observe the procession as it travels from Kane-Jarrett Funeral Home on Yonge Street to the Toronto Congress Centre.
Meanwhile, books of condolence are being made available to allow the public to pay respects to Hong.
Police say members of the public who want to offer condolences to Hong's family and colleagues can visit its headquarters and its traffic services building, or share their thoughts on its website.
The service provided the following locations and times for the public:
Traffic Services, 9 Hanna Ave.: Sept. 15 to Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
TPS Headquarters, 40 College St.:
- Sept. 15 and Sept. 16: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Sept. 17 and Sept. 18: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sept. 19 and Sept. 20: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Online at https://www.tps.ca/andrew-hong/
Police say they will announce details about Hong's funeral later on Thursday.
Hong was a 22-year veteran of the Toronto police force, having spent the past 19 years with traffic services where he worked with a highly specialized motorcycle unit that provides security escorts for dignitaries like prime ministers and presidents.
With files from Greg Ross and Trevor Wilson