‘Random’ drive-by shooting injures 5 after evening prayers in Toronto: police

The parking lot where the alleged incident took place. Phil Fraboni/Global News

Police have appealed for information from the public after a drive-by shooting injured five men in Toronto early Saturday morning.

Police responded to a call around 1 a.m. in the area of Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue East. A suspect was allegedly shooting at a group of people in a parking lot.

The suspect fled the scene in a blue car travelling northbound on Markham Road, police said, although they said details remain unclear.

The incident took place after a group of Muslim Toronto residents had finished their prayer service and were deciding where to eat, police said during an update Saturday afternoon.

“They had just finished their midnight prayer service down the road,” said David Rydzik, superintendent with Toronto Police. “While they were here, and just getting ready to leave, shots rang out.”

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Police said they do not currently have evidence that suggested the crime was hate-motivated. They said they believe it was a “random act of violence.”

In a tweet, Toronto police chief James Ramer said it was “too early” to confirm a motive. He said the hate crimes unit was working with the local community.

The Scarborough Muslim Association said in a statement that they did not “have reason to believe” the incident was hate motivated.

“We believe it’s absolutely essential the suspect(s) be apprehended before we can begin to heal as a community,” the statement read.

Toronto Police told Global News that officers located four men at the scene with gunshot wounds. All four were taken to hospital with serious non-life-threatening injuries, while two were sent to the trauma centre on an emergency run.

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A fifth male victim later made his way to a local hospital, police said.

None of the injuries are life-threatening and three of the five men have been released from hospital.

Peel police chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a tweet he was “appalled” by the news. He said his force would increase its presence around Mosques in Peel to reassure residents.

A community member speaking to the media said the five men were childhood friends. He called them “leaders of the community.”

Police appealed for dashcam footage and said information regarding a suspect was limited.

“The full resources of the Toronto Police Service will be put (into force) here to make sure that we advance this investigation,” Rydzik said.

Community members spoke during an update held by Toronto Police. Phil Fraboni/Global News

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