Police say that they do not believe five men who were shot after attending midnight prayers in Scarborough over the weekend were targeted because of their faith.
The men were gathered in a parking lot near Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue East, discussing where to eat at around 1 a.m. on Saturday when a vehicle drove by and an occupant or occupants opened fire.
Four of the men were found at the scene with gunshot wounds and transported to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A fifth victim, who also sustained non-life-threatening injuries, made his own way to hospital. A sixth man was present but was not struck by the gunfire.
Police previously said that the hate crime unit was involved in the investigation but during a news conference on Friday, Staff. Supt. Lauren Pogue revealed that officers are now “confident” that the men were not targeted because they are Muslim.
“We don’t believe anyone should be afraid. The Muslim community is very, very concerned. But we do not believe this is hate-motivated or targeting the community in any way,” she said. “I hope that this provides some comfort to the community.”
Police have said that the victims are all between 28 and 35 years old and should make full recoveries.
Pogue said that the men had just finished Ramadan prayers at a nearby mosque and were talking amongst one another when they were shot.
She said that while investigators do not believe the shooting was hate-motivated, they are “are not prepared to speak to any other motive at this time.”
“There is no evidence at this time to suggest that the victims did anything to incite this incident or are involved in gang activity,” she said.
Police have said that they believe that there were multiple individuals in the car that opened fire on the men.
On Friday, they also released grainy surveillance camera images of the suspect vehicle, which is described as a dark blue, four-door sedan with dark wheel rims that are either custom or winter steel rims.
A suspect vehicle in a drive-by shooting near Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue East on April 16 is shown in these surveillance camera images. (Toronto Police Service)
The vehicle was last seen headed northbound along Markham Road shortly after the shooting.
“I urge anyone who saw this vehicle in the area or anyone with information about the vehicle to please contact police,” Pogue said. “I would also encourage people living in that area to check their dash cams and to check their home surveillance videos and provide any information that they might have.”
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