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Veteran Toronto cop killed in Tim Horton’s ‘ambush’; GTA rampage leaves five shot, suspect dead


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Veteran Toronto cop killed in Tim Horton’s ‘ambush’; GTA rampage leaves five shot, suspect dead

A Toronto police traffic officer on a lunch break in a Mississauga Tim Horton’s was shot dead in what police are calling an unprovoked “ambush”— the beginning of a chaotic shooting rampage spread out over three cities that left a trail of five victims before the “armed and dangerous” suspect was himself gunned down by police in a Hamilton cemetery.

Const. Andrew Hong, a 48-year-old veteran of the Toronto police, died at the scene in Mississauga after he was shot at close range — an execution-style attack that happened while the officer was taking a quick break from a training course in Peel Region Monday.

Only moments earlier, cops from Peel, York Region and Toronto police had gone their separate ways to various restaurants in the plaza before the sounds of gunfire sent many of them sprinting back toward the scene — and saw frantic citizens inside the coffee shop flee.

“He was shot in an unprovoked and, I may say, in an ambush attack, and succumbed to his injuries,” Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah told reporters gathered for a sombre press conference near the scene Monday evening.

The shooting inside the Tim Horton’s was captured on video; after he shot the officer, the gunman tried to disarm him.

“Constable Hong was a husband, a father and a son,” a visibly emotional Toronto police Chief James Ramer said late Monday, his voice trembling, declaring the death of the officer described by colleagues as a “gentle giant” a “murder.”

Hong was one of five people who were shot — two fatally — when the 30-year-old gunman dressed all in black except for a yellow construction vest began the shooting rampage just after 2:15 p.m.

It was the start of a frantic sequence of events that saw crime scenes spread out across Mississauga, Milton and Hamilton. The shooting led police from five different police services on a chase through multiple jurisdictions and prompted a provincewide alert about an active shooter.

Led by Peel police, the investigation is in its infancy, with police waiting several hours Monday before releasing details about a confusing sequence of events that saw hordes of police officers and bystanders flood separate shooting scenes as some devastated officers flocked to where their colleague was shot to comfort one another.

Sources said is too early to say if there’s a clear motive by the shooter.

The shooting began just after 2:15 p.m., when Hong was one of two people shot at a Tim Horton’s restaurant near Argentia Road and Winston Churchill Boulevard in Mississauga. Hong was pronounced dead at the scene and the other victim was transported to a trauma centre.

Thirty minutes later — at around 2:50 p.m. near an autobody shop on Bronte Street South in Milton — the same suspect was involved in a separate triple shooting, police said. Here, one person was pronounced deceased at the scene and two others had been transported to hospital. Their identities have not yet been released.

The three people who survived the shootings have suffered “life-altering” injuries; one was in critical condition Monday night.

Minutes after the initial shooting, Peel police tweeted that the suspect had fled the scene in a black Jeep Cherokee with licence plate number CLMZ905.

According to Halton police, the suspect fled the Milton shooting in the same black Jeep.

Less than two hours after that shooting, just after 4:30 p.m., the suspect was shot and killed in an “interaction” with both Halton and Hamilton police in Hamilton.

Halton police initially tweeted: “Suspect has been located and is in police custody.”

For several hours after Hong’s death, the five involved police services — from Toronto, Mississauga, Halton and Hamilton, and the OPP — released few details about the shootings, which prompted an emergency alert to cellphones across the GTA warning of an “active shooter.”

At 5:30 p.m., Peel Regional Police spokesperson Heather Cannon said a public safety alert was no longer in effect, saying: “There is no threat to public safety.”

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At the scene near the Tim Horton’s in Mississauga, uniformed and plainclothes officers in suits could be seen gathering in large numbers outside the restaurant, partially blocked from view by a Peel Police bus as red and blue sirens continued flashing.

A lot across the street was also taped off, but the purpose was not clear. A forensic van was also at the scene.

Jon Reid, president of the Toronto Police Association representing officers, said policing is a “heroic profession.”

“Today is a stark reminder of how this work can result in members paying the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “We all owe Andrew our respect and gratitude.”

Former Toronto Police Service union president Craig Bromell, who was a police officer in Toronto between 1978 and 2004, said he knew Hong personally and by reputation.

“He was a dedicated officer that got along with everybody. He’s the type of police officer you want to show up when you need help. This is a massive loss.”

Bromell added: “It’s confusing to all of us, even the most experienced police officers, as to how this happens so out in the open, in broad daylight, with video cameras everywhere … When you go to police training, no one prepares you for this.”

A spokesperson for the Special Investigations Unit — Ontario’s police watchdog — confirmed they are involved in the investigation in connection to a shooting in Hamilton.

“One person has been shot and pronounced deceased … in the Hamilton Cemetery and this is in relationship to the earlier shootings that have occurred in Peel Region and Halton Region,” Hamilton police Chief Frank Bergen said.

Bergen said no Hamilton police officers have been injured, but would not comment on whether any officers from other jurisdictions have been injured or killed. He also would not say if the person killed in the cemetery was armed.

The fatal “interaction” took place at the back of the cemetery near Highway 403, according to Bergen.

“My thoughts are with Const. Hong’s family, his friends and the entire Toronto Police Service,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “In the days ahead, I know Toronto residents will join me in supporting the Hong family and our entire policing community as they come together to mourn.”

Hong was “a husband, father and hero, he and his loved ones are in my prayers,” said Premier Doug Ford.

The last Toronto police officer killed in the line of duty was 31-year veteran Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup. Northrup, 55, was struck and killed by a driver while responding to a 911 call in an underground parking garage near Toronto city hall on July 2, 2021.

His death was followed by a public funeral procession and memorial ceremony at BMO Field, attended by uniform officers from over 50 emergency services across the country.

Northrup — like Hong — was also described by colleagues as a “gentle giant.”

With files from Brent Davis and the Hamilton Spectator

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based crime reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

Robert Cribb is a Toronto-based investigative reporter for the Star. Reach him via email: rcribb@thestar.ca

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