A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
The footage, captured by a home security camera in the area, appears to shows the man walking down a residential street, holding what’s now been confirmed as a BB gun. The timestamp on the video is 12:55 p.m.
Approximately a half-hour later, Toronto police were called to Maberley Crescent and Oxhorn Road, in Scarborough’s Port Union neighbourhood, for reports of a person carrying a rifle.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said two officers confronted the man, discharged their weapons and he was shot dead by police. Their mandate has been invoked.
The SIU confirmed to CTV News Toronto Thursday evening that a BB gun was recovered at the scene, though it’s unclear if the man was holding the imitation firearm or shot at the officers before police opened fire.
“Whether the man was holding it or not, I’m not entirely certain at this point. But that will be something that the SIU investigators will be looking at,” said Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the province’s police watchdog said.
Speaking about the incident in the hours that followed, Police Chief James Ramer underscored there is no threat to public safety. However, he said that police would be ramping up patrols in the area.
Security footage shows the man believed to be involved, walking down a residential street, holding what’s now been confirmed as a BB gun.
“We have no understanding at this point in time, what was about to happen, or what could have happened,” Ramer said at a news conference.
“So I don’t want to speculate and suggest that it’s something similar to what’s happened in the United States,” he said in reference to the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday that left 21 people dead, including 19 children and two adults.
Witness video from the scene showed officers cordoning off a section of East Avenue, several hundred metres from William G. Davis Public school, one of four schools in the area that was affected.
A body covered with an orange tarp could be seen on the sidewalk.
Images captured by the CTV News Toronto chopper following the incident appear to show the air rifle lying on a stretch of grass.
CTV News Toronto’s chopper captured images Thursday of what appears to be an air rifle laying on a patch of grass in Scarborough following an incident that forced four nearby schools in to lockdown.
Mayor John Tory said he spoke with Ramer following the situation and that he could not “imagine the fear felt by kids, teachers, and parents.”
“No one should have to feel that fear, and I’m so thankful everyone in the school was able to safely go home tonight,” he said.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said that Charlottetown Junior Public School and Centennial Road Junior Public School were in hold and secure, while Joseph Howe Senior Public School and Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute were placed in lockdown.
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said schools within the board regularly practice lockdown drills “specifically for this kind of situation.”
“Because of those lockdown drills, when it does happen for real, students and staff generally know what to do. In this case, obviously, that’s a concerning situation,” he said.
‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL’
A student inside William G. Davis at the time of the incident told CP24 she was in her science class when the class received a message from the principal that they were going into lockdown.
“This is not a drill, get under your desks,” she recalled being told.
“I thought someone was trying to break into the school – I was just saying to myself – probably it’s the end of it,” she said.
All school restrictions were lifted by 3 p.m.
Police and investigators are seen at the scene of a shooting in Toronto, Thursday, May 26, 2022. Toronto police say a man has died after an interaction with officers during which a police gun was fired. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
The TDSB said social workers will be on site should any staff or students need support. All affected schools are open today.
As the investigation unfolds, Ramer ask the public not to speculate on the motive in light of recent events south of the border.
“In the fullness of time, we will investigate every aspect of this, and we’ll have a better understanding of what has occurred,” Ramer said.
The 27-year-old man has not been identified by police.
With files from Chris Herhalt, Bryann Aguilar, and Abby Neufeld
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