Targeted triple shooting along Toronto highway leaves 1 dead, 2 others wounded

A triple shooting that left one man dead and two others wounded along Highway 400 in Toronto's northwest end Saturday night is believed to have been targeted, and police are appealing to the public for any information that could help shed light on the case.

Terrence Agtual, 28, was killed in the shooting, police told reporters in an update Sunday. Acting Det.-Sgt. Brandon Price said Agtual had a history with the police, but did not elaborate.

"This does not appear in any way to be a situation where this vehicle was struck by random or by stray bullets," Price said.

Police say shots were fired out of a moving vehicle on the southbound lanes of the highway between Steeles Avenue and Finch Avenue West just before 7 p.m.

Investigators believe the suspect vehicle approached the victims' vehicle on the driver's side and opened fire, striking it numerous times. Three people were inside the victims' vehicle at the time — a driver, a front-seat passenger and rear-seat passenger.

The victims exited the highway at Finch Avenue West, making their way to a nearby gas station at Finch Avenue and Jayzel Drive, where one of them phoned 911. 

CBC

When officers arrived at the gas station, they found all three men suffering from gunshot wounds, one of them in life-threatening condition. Paramedics said Saturday that one of the victims was in his 30s, while the other two were in their 20s.

Price said Agtual suffered a gunshot wound to the head and had been in critical condition until Sunday morning, when he died of his injuries. 

The two less seriously injured men suffered one gunshot wound each. One was shot in the lower back, while the other was shot in the leg. Both are expected to survive.

Price did not say who among the victims is believed to have been targeted in the shooting. 

Imam who worked with youth among injured

Community members told CBC News on Sunday that one of the men injured is a Toronto-area imam who works with youth to counsel them and to help prevent gun violence.

"He will meet youth here, give them some kind of rehab — religious rehab — giving them hope and teaching them religion," said Mohamed Shakul, adding the goal was to help "make sure they have a good future and be productive members of society."

Shakul says he doesn't know the circumstances of the shooting but that it has left his community on edge. 

"Everybody was saying, 'if [he] is being attacked now, who is immune?'" said Shakul. "It's very strange."

Police have not released the identities of the injured men, but Shakul says the imam is now at home recovering. 

Uptick of gun violence

Agtual's death marks Toronto's 66th homicide of the year. It also marks the latest homicide in what has been a record-breaking year for gun violence in Toronto. 

Police say the city has seen more than 450 shootings in 2019, up 20 per cent from the year before. Nearly 700 people have been shot in the city in 2019 so far, 39 of them fatally.

Community advocate Paul Bailey, founder of Revive — an organization that looks to address the root causes of gun violence — says stemming the problem requires a holistic approach that also looks at school dropout rates, unemployment and opportunities for young people.

"I think in one sense it's important to get young people in their early years, that we can make sure that they have the support that they need as they're going to ... be productive members of society," he said.

Michael Rich/CBC

Bailey also says organizations with similar goals need to do a better job of pulling together to make a co-ordinated effort.

Anyone who may have been travelling along the southbound lanes of Highway 400 before 7 p.m., or who may have dashboard camera footage, is being urged to call police at 416-808-2222 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS.

Ontario Provincial Police have reopened Highway 400's southbound lanes, from Steeles Avenue to Finch Avenue West, and Highway 407's east and westbound ramps onto Highway 400. The lanes and ramps were closed on Saturday night to allow officers to investigate.