Gun fired in Toronto high school washroom, slightly injuring worker, police say

Toronto police say a gun was fired inside a washroom at East York Alternative Secondary School. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and a projectile slightly injured a staff person who was trying to break up a fight in the washroom. Six people fled the scene, police say. (Keith Burgess/CBC - image credit)
Toronto police say a gun was fired inside a washroom at East York Alternative Secondary School. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and a projectile slightly injured a staff person who was trying to break up a fight in the washroom. Six people fled the scene, police say. (Keith Burgess/CBC - image credit)

A gun was fired inside a washroom at a Toronto high school on Thursday afternoon, slightly injuring a worker, police say.

Toronto police say they were called about a fight in the washroom at East York Alternative Secondary School, 670 Cosburn Ave., at about 1:10 p.m.

The person injured was an outreach worker who was trying to break up the fight, police said.

Officers placed the school in lockdown but it has since been lifted and the students have been released. Officers, however, were still at the school as of 5 p.m. and were canvassing the area for video and witnesses.

Acting Insp. Jason Albanese, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said officers determined that one bullet was fired into the ground, that bullet ricocheted off the wall and a projectile from the ricochet hit the worker's shoe.

The man suffered very minor injuries but was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. Albanese said the worker suffered bruising.

Keith Burgess/CBC
Keith Burgess/CBC

Police have identified six people involved who fled the scene, Albanese said. Police believe some of them are students at the school.

All of them left before officers arrived and were last seen on foot eastbound on Cosburn Avenue.

"We believe we know who was involved. We are just trying to piece together what their respective roles were in this incident," he said.

Police have not recovered a weapon.

"School violence and gun violence continues to be a pressing matter for the Toronto Police Service," Albanese told reporters near the school on Thursday.

"We take this very seriously and we are working very hard to resolve issues within the school system."

It is fortunate that no one was seriously injured but police are "very concerned," Albanese said.

"Just because somebody was miraculously saved from further injury in this doesn't mean it's any less concerning for us," he said.

Keith Burgess/CBC
Keith Burgess/CBC

About 130 students attend the school, which runs from Grade 9 to 12, and about 60 were estimated to be there at the time of the shooting, according to Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board.

Bird said the outreach worker is not a staff person but a member of an outside agency who was at the school. The washroom where the shooting happened is near the front of the school, he added.

Bird said the lockdown was not put in place when the fight first started, but when police determined that a gun was fired.

"Obviously, we are very happy that everyone is okay after this incident this afternoon. We are going to make sure that we are supporting our students and staff here, whether it be through our professional support services staff, making sure that tomorrow they're on site for anyone that wants to talk about this," Bird said.

Anyone in the area at the time is urged to contact police.