TORONTO (AP) — Gunshots sent shoppers running for cover and prompted the evacuation of Toronto’s busiest mall on Thursday, though police said no one was injured from the gunfire.
Toronto Police Supt. Rob Johnson said there was an altercation between groups of men in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall and one of them fired a handgun at least twice.
“Nobody was hit,” he said.
Johnson said two people suffered minor injuries while trying to flee the mall. Police said they were looking for multiple suspects, including two men in their 20s, and said one had a handgun.
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The mall was on lockdown and nobody was being let in. Police said the incident happened in the east side of the mall and were looking for witnesses and video. Hundreds of people milled about outside the mall after the incident.
Donald Mudavanhu said he was walking through the mall on the ground floor when he heard loud bangs. “Everyone just started running, there was a huge crowd of people,” he said.
The 43-year-old said he ran into a nearby department store with dozens of others and scrambled up to the second floor. An employee then took him and others to a staff corridor at the back of the store where they squeezed into a tight hallway, Mudavanhu said.
“It was getting stuffy, it was getting hot,” he said. “People were panicked, they didn’t get any information.”
The mall issued a statement saying it was closed for the rest of the day while police investigated the incident.
The Toronto Transit Commission said subway trains are not stopping at the mall.
The incident at the mall comes after a string of high-profile attacks in Canada’s largest city. Last month a man with a handgun opened fire in a crowded part of the city, killing two people and wounding 13 before he either shot himself or was killed by police. In April, a man who linked himself to a misogynistic online community used a van to run down pedestrians in a busy part of Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 14.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he’s relieved there are no reports of injuries from mall gunfire.
“Whether it is Yorkdale Mall or anywhere else in Toronto, people should not have to worry about gun violence breaking out,” Tory said in a statement. “There are too many guns available to criminals in the city and I am determined to end that with the help of our police and our government partners.”
Toronto has called for a ban on guns in the city and the federal government said it would study the issue. Montreal has called for a nation-wide ban.