Randall Barrs, Toronto lawyer shot in September, critical of police response
Randall Barrs says he's '95%' recovered since shooting in September
Prominent Toronto defence lawyer Randall Barrs has recovered after being shot Sep. 20 outside his law office, but he is critical of Halton police for allowing the shooting to happen and Toronto police for not determining why he was a target.
Barrs spoke exclusively to CBC Toronto Tuesday. It was the first time in the more than two months since a gunman opened fire that he has spoken on camera.
On the sunny Tuesday afternoon when Barrs was shot in the driveway of his law office at 23 Bedford Rd. in the Annex, there were babies in strollers at a parkette just across the street.
Barrs remembers them, but said he didn't see the man who is now accused of shooting him from behind until after he'd been shot twice in the left leg and had fallen to the ground.
"I heard the noises, the popping sound and the next thing I knew I realized I was on the ground and with the amount of blood I saw on my leg and on my shoe and on the driveway, when I looked back over my shoulder, I put together I'd been shot," Barrs said recalling the ordeal.
"I lost a lot of blood when I was hit, I was shot from behind by this coward."
Barrs first started to hop on his injured leg down the driveway towards the assailant, but then fear set in.
"Then I realized after two or three hops that he has a gun and I don't have one, so I just did a U-turn and hopped towards my office and lay on the door there and that's when the mystery begins," Barrs said.
Within seconds a group of undercover officers from Halton Police had surrounded the gunman and were helping Barrs secure his belt around his leg to slow the bleeding.
Sources tell CBC Toronto the team had the alleged gunman under surveillance, but Halton police have never confirmed why.
Barrs wants to know why police didn't step in earlier if they were hiding in the bushes.
"They were all wearing vests, they were protected — very dangerous situation. There were people all over the place," he said. "It's just a miracle that no one else was hit beside me."
One of the officers shot the alleged gunman in the neck. The man survived, and the incident is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the province's civilian police watchdog. The SIU steps in when police are involved in a confrontation that results in the injury of a civilian.
Halton police told CBC Toronto Tuesday they can't comment because their investigation is ongoing.
The SIU said its investigation is continuing and it could not provide an update.
Barrs is perplexed the SIU investigation isn't finished because he said he was told the officer who pulled the trigger, along with the officers who witnessed it, were all interviewed within a week of the shooting.
Grayson Delong, 51, is charged with 15 offences, including attempted murder. No longer wearing a gray neck-brace, on Nov. 21 Delong appeared in court, wearing an orange jumpsuit. Some pre-trial arrangements were made and he will appear next in court Dec. 5.
At the time of the shooting, Delong was out on bail after a series of break-and-enters in Halton region, and was under a weapons prohibition.
"He was out on bail for a bunch of [break and enters] in Peel but this doesn't look like [break and enter] surveillance. It doesn't make any sense," said Barrs.
Barrs maintains Delong was not a past or present client of his, and the men did not know each other.
Toronto Police have downloaded video that allegedly captures the shooting from one of Barrs's associates and apprehended Delong's cellphone, according to Barrs.
Yet nine weeks later there have been no updates from police.
Barrs said whoever orchestrated the shooting hasn't been caught, which means whoever has an axe to grind against him is still out there.
"You would think that would cause [Toronto Police] to speed up their investigation. You would think time would be of the essence but that doesn't seem to be the way things work with the Toronto Police Service," said Barrs.
"I'm not happy, I haven't been on this side of the fence but now I understand why a lot of people who have been have expressed so much unhappiness."
Toronto Police did not respond to CBC Toronto for an update on their investigation.
Despite everything, the veteran defence lawyer said he is not letting the open case stop him.
"I've been doing this for 40 years. I'm not afraid. I'm carrying on with my life," Barrs said.
The bullets went right through his left leg, missing bones and arteries. There is muscle and nerve damage, but he is recovering well, he said.
He says he was home from hospital the day after the shooting, and his first day in court was just over a week later on Sept. 29.
"I was in a lot of pain and discomfort for a long time, but it gradually got better day-by-day," he said.
"I'm doing pretty well. I'd say [I'm] at the 95 per cent level at this point."