Three people have been arrested following a shooting during an armoured truck robbery in midtown Toronto on Thursday.
Gunfire erupted between an armed Garda World (formerly G4S) guard, 37, and a gang of robbers at 1:15 a.m. at Avenue Road and Brookdale Avenue, north of Lawrence Avenue West.
The armoured vehicle was parked outside a TD Bank branch when one guard who was exiting the bank was confronted by armed gunmen.
“He was ambushed by three male suspects … he was immediately fired upon with a handgun,” police Staff-Insp. Mike Earl said at a news conference on Thursday morning.
He was shot three times — in the chest, arm and leg — and a fourth bullet was absorbed by his body armour. He was rushed to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and underwent surgery. He’s in critical, but stable condition.
The other guard was in the armoured truck at the time and the vehicle went into lockdown following the shooting. He was not injured.
The suspects fled the scene on foot, heading westbound. They were arrested in the Lawrence Heights area and a handgun was seized from the individuals.
Jaden Beckford, 18, of no fixed address; Nicholas Cross, 18, of Toronto; and Rashid Clarke, 18, of no fixed address, face several charges including attempted murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and possession of a restricted firearm.
They will appear at a Finch Avenue courthouse later on Thursday.
No other suspects are being sought in the shooting and robbery, police said.
The accused are also facing robbery-related charges in connection with a similar incident on June 5, which occurred at around 12:30 a.m. in the Bathurst Street and Lawrence area.
“There was an attempt in a similar nature of an armoured car, and it happens to be that it’s the same victims in this case that were targeted at that time,” Earl said.
“I don’t think the two individuals are specifically targeted. It’s the actual truck or the company that’s being targeted. The motive here is going to be financial.”
Earl also said this was not a random incident.
“These individuals no doubt planned this and attempted this on an earlier date, in my mind. Today, they made a similar attempt, which resulted in a shootout,” he said.
Police said nothing was stolen from the truck in either incident.
In Thursday’s incident, several shots were fired by the guard and the teens, said police. Thirty shell casings were found at the scene.
It appears that several bullets ricocheted off the armoured vehicle. At least one bullet hit an apartment building.
Toronto police have set up a large perimeter around the shooting site as they investigate.
Avenue is closed in both directions north of Lawrence for the police investigation.
“Our thoughts are with the guard, his family as well as his crew partner, who undoubtedly is in a state of shock,” Mike Armstrong with Unifor — a union that represents armoured car personnel — said in a statement.
The union said the incident “underscores the need for improved safety” in the armoured car industry.
Unifor represents 2,000 employees in the armoured car industry, predominately employed by Brinks and Garda.
The union also said it has been lobbying for minimum standards in employee training, vehicle specifications and safety equipment requirements.
“The use of smaller crew compliments (e.g. two-person crews) as well as unarmed crew members creates a far easier target for armed robbery and poses increasing risks to worker and public safety,” the statement said.
Since 2000, there have been more than 70 attacks on armoured cars in Canada, with four in the past year alone.
Anyone with information on Thursday’s incident is asked to contact police at 416-808-7350, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).
Police at the scene after an armoured guard was shot during an attempted robbery in midtown Toronto on June 19, 2014. 680News/Carl Hanstke
Gunfire erupted between armed G4S guards and the suspects on Avenue Road, near Lawrence Avenue West on June 19, 2014. CITYNEWS/Bert Dandy