Blue Jays player at mall when shots fired

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie said Sunday that he

narrowly missed being in the area where a gunman fired shots in a

crowded food court in one of Canada’s busiest malls, killing a man

and injuring seven others.

Police said the shooting on Saturday at Eaton Centre in downtown

Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent

bystanders in what they think might be a gang related shooting.

Police said seven people were shot in all, including a 24-year-old

man who was killed in a hail of bullets and a 23-year-old man who

remains in critical condition.

Det. Sgt. Brian Borg said a 13-year-old boy who was visiting

Toronto and shopping with family members was shot in the head but

has been upgraded to stable, but critical condition. He said a

pregnant woman who went into labor after being trampled in the rush

to get out of the mall has not yet given birth. He said she is

doing well.

Borg said they believe the dead man had gang affiliations. He

was known to police. Police think they know who the suspect is but

Borg declined to provide a name at this point. Borg said security

footage has been particularly helpful. He said there was one gunman

and no exchange of gunfire.

”I’m very confident we are going to make an arrest very soon,”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said.

Police removed the shooting victim’s body early Sunday


Lawrie was one of the first to break the news on Twitter on

Saturday evening. He had gone to the mall with a friend shortly

after the Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox in a Saturday

afternoon game.

”Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton

center mall … Wow just sprinted out of the mall … through

traffic,” Lawrie tweeted. ”People sprinting up the stairs right

from where we just were … Wow wow wow.”

He later tweeted that he was ”Rattled right now.”

On Sunday, Lawrie said he felt lucky because he left the food

court 10 seconds before the shooting.

”It was instant panic,” Lawrie said before Sunday’s game

against the Red Sox. ”It was as if you stepped on an ant hill and

then everyone just flooded out of the place. … I just got out of

there as fast as possible. I was the first person out of


Lawrie said he wanted to get the news out fast.

”I just thought I’d give it out there just to anybody that

could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there

ASAP, I thought I could give them a good piece of information,” he


Lawrie, a Canadian, said he never thought something like that

could happen at the Eaton Centre, a Toronto landmark that is

popular with tourists.

Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest cities in North

America. Many Canadians have long taken comfort in the peacefulness

of their communities and are nervous about anything that might

indicate they are moving closer to their American counterparts.

Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he

saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were

on the ground, he said. Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald’s in

the mall’s food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out

before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits.

”Any place for discharging a firearm in Toronto is dangerous.

In the food court of the Eaton Centre on a Saturday evening, it’s

not only dangerous, it’s outrageous,” the police chief Blair said.

”I believe every Torontonian is shocked and appalled by this


In 2005, a 15-year-old girl was killed during the Christmas

holidays just north of the mall in a shooting that shocked the city

during a year of record gun deaths in Toronto. In that case,

Toronto teen Jane Creba was shopping with family on busy Yonge

Street when she was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between

rival gangs.

”Today harkens back to that terrible moment,” Toronto Police

Chief Bill Blair said. ”I am very sadly reminded of that. That was

one of the most tragic and shocking events that ever took place in


Officials said the mall and its parking garages will remain

closed Sunday while police continue the investigation.