Toronto

Male student, 18, killed in targeted shooting inside Scarborough high school, police say

An 18-year-old male student was killed in a targeted shooting inside a Scarborough high school on Monday afternoon, Toronto police say.

Gunman fled scene, search underway, police appeal for witnesses, video

Toronto police are investigating a shooting at a Scarborough school that left a male student, 18, dead. Police say the 'entire main floor of the school' is a crime scene. (CBC)

An 18-year-old male student was killed in a targeted shooting inside a Scarborough high school on Monday afternoon, Toronto police say.

The shooting happened at David and Mary Thomson Collegiate, 125 Brockley Dr., near Lawrence Avenue East and Midland Avenue. Police were called to the school shortly after 3 p.m. According to the Toronto District School Board, the shooting happened shortly after dismissal.

Police said officers found the student suffering from a gunshot wound and then solicited the help of Toronto paramedics. The student, who was in grade 12 at the school, died at the scene. His death is now considered a homicide.

Insp. Richard Harris, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, told reporters at a scrum near the school that the news is devastating.

"It is an absolutely unfortunate event that has taken place today. A very young individual has lost his life today and I can assure you that the Toronto Police Service and the homicide squad will do their very best to investigate this matter and hopefully bring the person or persons responsible to justice," Harris said.

Harris said the "entire main floor of the school" is a crime scene but there is no public safety threat to the surrounding community.

"We do not believe that the immediate area, or the residents in the area, are under any sort of threat or danger. We believe that at this time this was a targeted event," he said.

Police appeal for witnesses after gunman fled scene

According to Harris, the gunman fled the scene in an easterly direction. Police said he was a Black male with a light complexion about five-foot-six inches tall. Members of the police's canine unit and emergency task force are searching for him, he said. No weapon has been found.

Homicide detectives are taking over the investigation.

Police are asking anyone who was in the area around 3 p.m. and who has cellphone or dashboard camera footage to come forward.

Toronto police officers stand outside David and Mary Thomson Collegiate after an 18-year-old male student was shot and killed inside the school on Monday afternoon. (CBC)

The school was placed on lockdown shortly after the shooting and police's emergency task force searched the school. Harris said there is no immediate threat to the school and it has been cleared.

Shari Schwartz-Maltz, spokesperson for the TDSB, told reporters that she believes the school got out at 2:50 p.m. and a lot of students had left before the fatal shooting happened. She said there are 16 cameras in the school.

She said the school will be closed on Tuesday because it is still considered an active crime scene. Classes will be offered online and there's no word on the length of the closure.

Students who need emotional support can visit McGregor Park Community Centre starting at 9 a.m. The TDSB will have support workers at the site. Teachers will be given links to online resources to distribute to students if they do not want to visit the centre in person.

"I don't really have a lot to say because it just happened and my heart is in my throat right now," she said. "There's a lot of tears inside. There's a lot of upset teachers. We have a lot of upset people inside. It's going to take a lot to get through it."

Schwartz-Maltz said schools are communities and the school will have a "full complement" of social work and professional services staff to talk to students and teachers whenever school resumes. 

"As soon as we all are together again, whatever kids need, our staff need, they will get," she said.

The school will be closed on Tuesday because it is considered an active crime scene. (CBC)

In a statement on Monday night, Colleen Russell-Rawlins, the TDSB's director of education, said the board is grieving the loss of a student and extends its condolences to the student's family, friends, loved ones and entire school community.

"We will be supporting the student's family in every way possible and will be ensuring that students and staff are supported at the school in the days and weeks ahead," the director said.

"As we continue to assist Toronto Police with their investigation in any way we can, we will also undertake our own investigation."

Parents and guardians should contact the school if they have questions or if their children require additional support, she said.

Russell-Rawlins told reporters on Monday night that the school is focused primarily on the student's family, friends and staff members who knew him best. She added that the principal and vice-principals enjoyed having the student at the school and administrators talked to him on Monday.

"They are obviously quite emotional, grieving deeply and worried about the family and friends as well as staff members," she said.

The school has 1,400 students. The main floor contains the main office, classrooms, a cafeteria and a gathering area, she added. "Detectors are not the answer," to ending violence, she said.

Mayor says violence in school 'tragic and unacceptable'

In a tweet, Mayor John Tory expressed his "profound sadness" that the lives of young people are being lost to gun violence in Toronto.

"Any act of violence which takes place in a school is both tragic and unacceptable. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim and the students and staff at David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute," he said.

Coun. Michael Thompson, who represents Ward 21, Scarborough Centre, said in a tweet that the shooting has left him "heartbroken."

"Please join me in offering support to all of those impacted by this terrible tragedy," he said.

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