Toronto police officer killed in 'ambush' as shooting rampage ends with suspect's death
Const. Andrew Hong, 48, was shot at close range, police say
A gunman shot and killed a Toronto police officer at close range at a Mississauga, Ont., restaurant Monday afternoon in what police described as an unprovoked "ambush" — the first of a series of shootings that killed another man and wounded three others.
The attacks began at a Tim Hortons restaurant at around 2 p.m. A deadly shooting rampage ensued, spanning three communities west of Toronto and ending around 6:30 p.m., when police said they fatally shot the suspect in a Hamilton cemetery.
Toronto Police Chief James Ramer said Const. Andrew Hong, 48, was killed while on a joint training exercise with Peel and York Regional Police. He had stopped at the restaurant to take a lunch break, police said.
"This is devastating news for his family and for all members of the Toronto Police Service and our entire policing community. We will lean on each other while we work to support Constable Hong's family, and each other, in our grief," Ramer told reporters on Monday evening.
Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said it didn't appear Hong did anything to the suspect prior to the attack. "He was shot in an unprovoked and, may I say, in an ambush attack," Duraiappah said.
Hong, a member of the traffic services unit, had worked for the force for 22 years. He is survived by his wife, two children and parents.
Ramer said he met with Hong's family on Monday afternoon, along with Jon Reid of the Toronto Police Association, to break the news.
"I committed to his family that they will have the full support of the Toronto Police Service every day going forward," Ramer said.
Police line in procession, showing their respect, as the body of Toronto Constable Andrew Hong is taken from the scene in Mississauga where he was shot and killed this afternoon <a href="https://t.co/u5CMVhPkLG">pic.twitter.com/u5CMVhPkLG</a>—@CBCLorenda
There was a procession of police vehicles as Hong's body was taken from the scene of his death. A line of officers saluted the vehicles as they drove past.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a tweet that all flags will remain at half-mast at Toronto city hall, civic centres, Metro Hall and various city locations in Hong's memory on Monday. The Toronto sign will also be dimmed in his honour.
Police from Peel Region, Halton Region and Toronto told reporters on Monday evening that two people were shot in Mississauga, three were shot in Milton and the suspect had an "interaction" with Halton Regional Police Service officers in Hamilton.
The one person wounded in Mississauga suffered life-altering injuries and is being treated at a trauma centre in the GTA. Of the two injured in Milton, one is in critical condition, while the other is in serious condition.
2nd person killed was auto repair shop owner
The second person killed on Monday was Shakeel Ashraf. Ashraf was the owner of MK Auto Repairs, an auto repair shop in Milton where the suspect was an employee, according to Ashraf's friends.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), meanwhile, has invoked its mandate in connection with the death of the suspect in Hamilton. The SIU is called in whenever someone is killed or injured in a confrontation with police, or there are allegations of sexual assault against officers.
In a tweet, the unit said it is investigating a shooting involving a Halton police officer on Monday afternoon on York Boulevard in Hamilton.
Kristy Denette, spokesperson for the SIU, said on Monday night that Halton Region and Hamilton police, at 4:30 p.m., located a man believed to have been involved in "serious incidents in Mississauga and Milton."
"There was an interaction and there were shots fired by police from Halton and Hamilton," Denette said. "And as a result, the man has been pronounced deceased at the scene."
SIU investigators are looking at a number of firearms at the scene and trying to figure out how many bullets are there and how many rounds were fired. The coroner is also there. The man is being identified. SIU will notify his next of kin, she said.
"There is a lot to go through in the cemetery," she said.
Denette said processing of the scene will continue on Tuesday.
"It's not clear which firearm led to the death of the suspect, she said, adding that it's also "unclear whether the person was armed and shots were exchanged."
Duraiappah said the first shooting happened in the area of Argentia Road and Winston Churchhill Boulevard in Mississauga. Police were called to the scene at about 2:15 p.m.
At 4:25 p.m., Peel police issued an emergency alert, saying they were searching for an active shooter, armed and dangerous, driving a stolen black Jeep Cherokee. They later retracted the alert. They also released photos of the suspect.
In the alert, police identified the suspect as Shawn Petry, 30.
Less than an hour after the Mississauga shooting, Halton police received information about a shooting in Milton in the area of Bronte Street South, Main Street and King Street.
Police told reporters they believe the suspect in the Mississauga shooting was also involved in the Milton shooting.
In a tweet at 3:25 p.m., Halton police said they had closed Bronte Street South from King Street to Main Street for a shooting investigation.
Police said in a tweet about an hour later that three people were shot in Milton. The suspect then fled the scene in Halton Region and was found in Hamilton, Duraiappah said.
Hamilton police confirmed on Monday that the suspect died. The shooting happened in the Hamilton cemetery, according to Hamilton Police Chief Frank Bergen.
In a scrum, Bergen said he wanted to "reassure the public there is no longer a risk." He said no Hamilton officers were injured.
Toronto, Peel, Halton, Hamilton and Ontario Provincial Police were all involved.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Hamilton police were told that the suspect was headed toward the city, and shortly after, the shooting happened.
Politicians offer condolences to families
Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid said the union will work to provide whatever support is needed by Hong's family, friends and colleagues.
"Our members go to work each and every day and service to others, often putting themselves in harm's way," he said. "Today is a stark reminder of how this work could result in members given the old paying the ultimate sacrifice."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted after Hong was identified by Toronto police.
"May Constable Andrew Hong rest in peace. A husband, father and hero, he and his loved ones are in my prayers," he said.
Tory said his thoughts are with Hong's family.
"Today, we are sadly reminded of the danger our officers face on a daily basis as they work to keep us all safe," he said in a statement.
"In the days ahead, I know Toronto residents will join me in supporting the Hong family and our entire policing community as they come together to mourn.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie also expressed her condolences, saying she is "devastated."
"I want to offer my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones who lost their lives in this unimaginable tragedy. My thoughts are with the victims in hospital and their families, and I pray for their quick and full recovery," she said.
"Police are working diligently across jurisdictions to find answers as to how and why these events transpired."
Timeline of shooting events
- 2:15 p.m.: Peel Regional Police are called to a shooting in the area of Argentia Road and Winston Churchill Boulevard in Mississauga.
- 2:50 p.m.: Halton police respond to multiple reports of a shooting at an auto shop in Milton. They find the owner, Shakeel Ashraf, dead at the scene along with two other injured victims later transported to hospital. Police provided this information in a news release a day after the shootings took place.
- 3:21 p.m.: Two people are shot, Peel police say, by a male deemed "armed and dangerous." One victim is rushed to a trauma centre. In a tweet, they ask the public to look out for a black Jeep Cherokee car, with a partially-identified licence plate number containing "905."
- 3:25 p.m.: Peel police provide an updated licence plate: CLMZ 905. If the public spots the car, police warn, call 911 immediately and do not approach the suspect.
- 3:25 p.m.: Halton police close Bronte Street South from King Street to Main Street in Milton, and warn the public to avoid the area. In a tweet, they state the suspect fled the area in a black Jeep Cherokee — the same vehicle Peel police warned the public about minutes earlier.
- 4:05 p.m.: Peel police issue an updated description of the suspect.
- 4:23 p.m.: Hamilton police tweet they are monitoring an active shooter situation in Peel and Halton regions. They state the suspect was last seen near Highway 407 and Brant Street at 3:04 p.m., in the same black Jeep Cherokee.
- 4:25 p.m.: Peel police issue an emergency alert across the province. They identify the suspect as Shawn Petry, 30.
- 4:33 p.m.: Halton police confirm they have arrested a suspect. In Milton, 1 person has been pronounced dead at the scene, and 2 others have been transported to hospital. At this point, two people — a Toronto police officer in Mississauga, and another person in Milton — have been shot dead. Three others have been injured.
- 4:47 p.m.: Hamilton police warn the public to stay away from York Boulevard to Dundurn Street North, all the way to Highway 403, in a tweet. Both eastbound and westbound lanes are closed.
- 5:47 p.m.: Peel Police tweet they are retracting the provincial safety alert. They announce there is no further threat to public safety in relation to this incident.
- 6:29 p.m.: In a news conference, Hamilton police say one person has been shot and pronounced dead in the Hamilton cemetery in relation to the shootings in Peel and Halton.
- 7:34 p.m.: Hamilton police confirm via tweet that the provincial police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, has invoked its mandate. The SIU is called in when police are involved in cases where civilians are seriously injured or killed, or there are allegations of sexual assault against officers.
- 8:00 p.m.: Police representatives from Toronto, Halton and Peel, alongside the head of the Toronto Police Association John Reid, appear at a joint news conference. They announce the death of Toronto Police Constable Andrew Hong. It's later followed by police a procession in his honour.
With files from The Canadian Press