Male shot to death at prom after-party in home rented on Airbnb

The victim was pronounced dead on the second floor of the rural home.

York Regional Police homicide detectives are investigating

York police responded to a rural residence in Whitchurch-Stouffville just after 4 a.m. for reports of a shooting. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

A male was shot to death at a prom after-party at a rural residence in York Region on Friday morning.

The shooting occurred just after 4 a.m. at a home in Whitchurch-Stouffville, near Bloomington Road and Ninth Line, according to York Regional Police.

The home was rented out on Airbnb, police said. A now-removed post listed the property for $700 per night. 

Paramedics responded and pronounced the victim dead on the second floor of the home. Const. Andy Pattenden said that police are still trying to identify him and no further details were immediately available. 

At least 60 people fled the area in the aftermath of the shooting, police said. Only the person who had rented the home for the night remained at the scene to speak with officers.

Investigators think there may have been hundreds of people at the party in the hours before the shooting, according to Pattenden. 

"We know there were people here. We know there are people who probably heard or saw what happened and we need them to come forward right away," he told reporters at the scene. 

Homicide detectives have been called in to investigate.

Paramedics pronounced the male victim dead at the scene. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

2 males arrested near home

In a news release, police said that around 4:30 a.m., two males were arrested on Bethesda Side Road, several kilometres away from the home, after a caller reported that they had been knocking on doors and asking residents to call them a taxi.

When officers arrived at the scene on Bethesda Side Road, the two males were hiding in bushes. A handgun was found near where they were arrested, police said. 

According to Pattenden, homicide investigators are still trying to figure out if there is a link between the shooting and the two males. 

"It's still far too early to tell if these two incidents are connected to each other," he said. 

Both males are minors and appeared in court on Friday for weapons charges, according to police.

The scene on Besthesda Side Road where two minors were arrested. A handgun was found nearby by police. Both males appeared in court on firearms charges on Friday. (Linda Ward/CBC)

Kevin McGuckin lives across the road from where the pair were found by police. He didn't hear anything during the night, but he did get a call from a neighbour asking if the two males had knocked on his door.

"Stouffville is quite a good community and we're proud to live here, but seeing all this it really makes you think that you got to be aware what's going on all the time," he told CBC Toronto.

"My heart goes out to the family. Hopefully everything gets solved."

In an email statement, a spokesperson for Airbnb said that the person who booked the rental has been removed from the site and the listing has been suspended "as we investigate.

"The safety of our community is our priority, and our thoughts are with the victims of this senseless tragedy. There is no place on Airbnb for such an abhorrent act, which violates everything our Canadian community stands for. We stand ready to work with local law enforcement and support their investigation," the spokesperson said. 

Anyone with information about the shooting or the party is asked to contact York police.

'Our schools are safe places'

Meanwhile, the York Region District School Board issued a statement Friday night saying it was shocked and horrified to learn of the homicide, while urging people not to speculate, jump to conclusions or make assumptions.

The board said it's supporting the efforts of York Regional Police in their investigation.

"Our focus is on providing support to our students and families," director of education Louise Sirisko said in the statement.

"Regardless of the details of the police investigation, we know that some students will be looking for support and reassurances that they are safe."

Sirisko said the board has developed tips to support families in their conversations with children and youth about tragic events.

Students are set to return to school on Monday, and Sirisko said staff members will be available to provide support.

"If you have concerns about your child's emotional well-being or reaction to the news of this incident, please contact the school so you can work together to provide support. I want to reassure you that our schools are safe places and that our caring staff members will be welcoming students on Monday."