Screen grab from video posted to YouTube by Martin Baron.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, at the intersection of Dundas West and Bellwoods, Toronto police fired nine bullets at a man at close range. He was later pronounced dead in hospital.
The incident began when the man allegedly brandished a knife at fellow passengers aboard a 505 Dundas streetcar. All others on the vehicle, including the operator, fled.
When police arrived, he was still aboard the vehicle, at the front near the driver's seat. Witnesses says that after refusing police orders to drop the weapon, the man took steps toward the officers, who then opened fired.
Jeremy Ing, a passenger on the streetcar who witnessed the events leading up to the shooting, told NOW Magazine:
I was on a westbound 505 Dundas car, preparing to exit at Grace Street. I had my headphones in, so I was interrupted by the shrill screams of young girls, from the back of the car. And when I turned to see what was goin' on, some guy had stood up from his seat with his dick in his hand and also holding a knife. And then as soon as everybody recognized that, they scurried to the front of the car. It took maybe, like, five seconds or so before the streetcar driver realized what was goin' on and opened the doors up. So everybody flooded out, like disorderly, onto the street.
The guy remained on the car with the driver for a while. Eventually, maybe like two minutes later or so, the driver managed to get off and then the cops showed up and they basically swarmed it. And then they told him to drop the knife, like many times. And I guess he didn't comply or whatever, and fired off, I dunno, like eight shots or so.
A video of the incident posted to YouTube by Martin Baron shows nine shots:
The Special Investigations Unit (the provincial agency tasked with probing police incidents in which someone has been seriously injured or died) put out a news release at approximately 3 am confirming that the man succumbed to his wounds. They have launched an investigation.
Ing described the man as appearing to be in his early 20s, with an "olive-ish" complexion, dark hair, and a medium build. He said the weapon was "like a utility hunting knife that was opening and lockable."
Ing - who did not witness the shooting itself but said he was 20 feet away when it happened - made a point of stating that he felt the police response was disproportionate and excessive.
Jesse Grasso, who did see the shooting but did not wish to be interviewed prior to speaking with police, then interjected to clarify that the man charged "like, two steps forward" toward officers before they opened fire. Grasso is head chef at The Black Hoof, which is immediately west of where the incident took place.
As of 7 am, streetcars on the 505 Dundas route were still being diverted via College.