Person believed responsible for Toronto shooting dead, police say

TORONTO — A dispute at a business that conducts financial transactions escalated into a shooting that left three people – including the gunman – dead on Monday, Toronto police said as they investigated the incident that took place near a daycare and a school.

Investigators said they responded to reports of gunshots shortly before 3:30 p.m. at a commercial building. Two men and a woman died, they said.

"We believe that the individual responsible for the shooting is among the deceased," Det. Sgt. Alan Bartlett said at the scene on Monday night.

"The premises behind me was being operated as a business premises. And it's our belief, at this point, that the altercation that took place in there was in relation to that business."

Police currently believe there were four people inside the commercial building at the time, Bartlett said.

A nearby daycare and a school in the area were locked down as a result of the shooting but Bartlett noted there were no reports of any children being directly affected by what happened other than the lockdown.

"It's my understanding that all of those individuals have been reunited with their parents," he said, adding there was no access between the commercial offices and the daycare.

When asked if police were investigating a murder-suicide, Bartlett noted that the gunman was among the dead.

"With every homicide investigation we have to be open to to all possibilities," he said.

"This is no different from any other homicide investigation. We're going to deploy all of the same resources in an effort to understand exactly what transpired inside."

Earlier in the evening, Shahrokh Biniyaz, a graphic designer and photographer who has a studio in the building where the shooting took place, said he had heard an argument and then gunshots on Monday afternoon.

"I didn't know what it was, thought it was maybe a circuit breaker or something because it was really loud,” he said.

"I came out of my office and I heard some arguments in the reception ... I went back to my desk and sat down, and I heard the second bang after two minutes."

Biniyaz said at that point he walked out of his office again, heard a quarrel and then left the building through a back door.

"I called 911, police came quite fast," he said, adding he then heard another round of gunshots.

Biniyaz said that during the argument, he'd heard the voices of two men and a woman. He added he only heard three people had died when watching the news after giving police an interview.

A large police presence remained in the area on Monday night and investigators were expected to continue working in the area into Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, relieved parents were seen hugging their children tight after they were reunited just outside the police tape at St. George Mini School daycare. The tape separated a stretch of the tree-lined street, and multiple police cars were parked in the area.

One parent said staff had reached out and told them to come pick up their kids early. A supervisor told the crowd of parents gathered that everyone inside was safe.

Sarah Ashfield, one of the daycare workers, said she didn't have a lot of information on the situation at first but told everyone to go into lockdown after a supervisor noted the building was surrounded by police.

"I didn't panic, just waited for the information as we received it," she said.

Once she alerted parents, Ashfield said she was bombarded with messages but couldn't tell parents anything besides that the children were safe.

She said she tried to reassure parents again as children were being brought out of the daycare.

"They're perfectly fine, they have no clue what's happening," she said of the kids, adding staff only told them as they were walking out that there would be police outside.

The daycare will be open Tuesday as long as investigators give them the green light, she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

Rianna Lim and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press