Archive: 2019 Toronto Raptors NBA Championship Parade Shooting
Although it was 3 years ago, I remember the day well, probably because it was the first time I’d found myself faced with a panicked crowd of a few thousand people running in all directions.
It was a hot and sunny June 17th day in Toronto, hundreds of thousands of people descended on the downtown core to cheer on the Toronto Raptors after their historic NBA Championship win. I knew the parade route was going up University Avenue and turning or Armory Rd before the parade would come to an end at City Hall, so that’s where I positioned myself for what turned out to be hours in the scorching sun, but hindsight is 20/20, right?
Eventually after the parade had passed, my friend Zac and I were making our way to Bay Street through Larry Sefton park behind city hall, and that’s the point when I first noticed something wasn’t right. A chain of police on bikes heading the same direction as us picked up speed, their radios squawked with something unintelligible, next thing I know I’m standing on Bay street with multiple officers with guns drawn, barrels pointed down.
There was a strange calm amid the crowd given all the police commotion, with the exception of one guy I saw sprinting for his life through the crowd towards us. As if he were a varsity football player running for the winning touchdown he pinged off of people, I tried to catch a photo of him but the crowd was too thick to get a clean shot, I could however make out that there was blood splattered on his jersey. Once he blows past us not far behind him were at least a dozen police giving chase on foot, they disappeared into the park which we came from. As more police, including Emergency Task Force armed with carbine rifles, descended on the scene I had a sense for the chaos that was about to unfold.
As if by instinct I grabbed my friend Zac and said “we need to get out of the path of the stampede” and I pulled him toward a vacant ambulance parked in the street that would force any stampede around us and shield us from any other bullets if there still was an active shooter. Once behind the ambulance I turned around to face the crowd and raised my camera over the hood, the first frame I snapped was a father running with his infant child in his arms, nothing but fear in his eyes.
As the nervous crowd sporadically bolted in all directions in waves, some people screamed out that there was still an active shooter, some saying there was a second shooter, nothing but broken telephone and chaos as people literally ran out of their shoes, I decided to push forward through the crowd and keep following the police who were responding while Zac understandably kept a greater, arguably safer, distance between us. I eventually found myself at the intersection of Bay St and Queen St. West, in the intersection between Old City Hall and the current Toronto City Hall, the ground was littered in random items people had dropped in the panic, EMS and first responders on the scene treated the injured and loaded them into awaiting ambulances.
Not long after it became apparent that there were no other shooters, however the police presence remained, and the joyous vibe of the day was tainted with fear and anxiety. The 4 victims shot sustained non-life threatening injuries, and the following day 3 men were arrested in connection to the shooting.
Leave a Comment