27-year-old man carrying pellet gun fatally shot by police near Scarborough school

Ontario’s police watch dog is investigating after a man who was seen with a firearm near a school was shot dead by responding officers. Melissa Nakhavoly has more.

By Lucas Casaletto, Michael Ranger

The province’s police watchdog says a 27-year-old man who was fatally shot by police outside an elementary school in Toronto’s east-end was carrying a pellet gun.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) confirms to CityNews the gun was recovered at the scene in Scarborough after Toronto police shot and killed a man they believed to be armed with a deadly weapon on Thursday afternoon.

Officers were called to the Maberley Crescent and Oxhorn Road area, near Lawrence Avenue East and Port Union Road, just after 1:30 p.m. following reports of a man carrying a rifle near William G. Davis Junior Public School.

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer said that responding officers were confronted by the individual, but would not provide any further details as to what transpired, only reiterating that there was no threat to public safety and that officers will step up patrols in the area.

The SIU was brought in to investigate and say that two officers shot at the man, who was later pronounced dead at the scene. The watchdog later confirmed that the man was 27-years-old and a post mortem is scheduled for Friday.

Witness Mike Grieve says the man was shot roughly 100 metres from the elementary school.

“I drove around the neighbourhood and heard that they were looking for someone armed with an assault rifle, and they ended up shooting him,” Grieve said in a video sent to CityNews, which shows a heavy police scene and paramedics.

Parents who witnessed the incident tell CityNews they heard officers yell “show me your hands” three times before they heard three or four shots fired.

William G. Davis Junior Public School, along with Joseph Howe Senior Public School, and Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute were all placed in lockdown as police investigated the incident.

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) spokesperson Ryan Bird says all three schools will be open on Friday with social workers on site for any students or staff who need support.

Parents, community members left shocked: “Just glad everyone is safe”

Steve Matthews, whose son attends William G. Davis Junior Public School, was one of the first people to witness what he described as a man pacing back and forth outside the school with a gun.

“I don’t even know how I feel at this moment. Still just in shock that this could happen, but I am just glad everyone is safe,” Matthews said. “I saw a gentleman [near] school property walking with a rifle on his shoulder, pacing back and forth.”

Matthews, who was in his car at the time, said he was focused on the man’s gun. He quickly turned his vehicle around and kept an eye on him.

“I just saw that he kept pacing, so that’s when I decided to park and run inside [the school] and make sure 9-1-1 was contacted.”

William G. Davis Junior Public School

Parents seen picking up children at William G. Davis Junior Public School in Scarborough. Photo: James Tumelty.

Tracy, another mother who lives in the area and whose daughter, Chailyne, attends the elementary school, says she heard two gunshots.

“It’s been scary until we could pick them up,” Tracy said, adding that the current context of what happened in Uvalde, Texas, made her feel increasingly concerned.

“Literally, I felt like my brain was on the floor when I ran out here and found out this happened near the children’s school. I am still shaking.”

Chailyne, who is 10 years old, says that students were in lockdown for about an hour.

“We were underneath the desks and just talking,” the girl explained. “We were just trying to be quiet.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he hopes more information will be forthcoming as the SIU delves further into the case.

“Given recent tragic events, I can’t imagine the fear felt by kids, teachers, and parents until the lockdown was lifted,” he said in a statement. “No one should have to feel that fear and I’m so thankful everyone in the school was able to safely go home tonight. Thank you to police for the work they do every day to keep our city safe.”

The police investigation comes after the tragic, fatal shooting of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old barricaded himself inside a classroom and began firing his semi-automatic rifle. Seventeen others were wounded in the shooting.

It is the third-deadliest American school shooting after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

With files from Lucas Spadafora of CityNews

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