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Four people shot during Raptors championship rally

- Reuters

Wounds are non-life-threatening; police chief appealed video-taking fans to help with investigation

TORONTO, Ont. —

Raptors revellers fled in panic after shots rang out while the NBA Champions and political dignitaries addressed a massive crowd from the nearby stage at Nathan Phillips Square.

The shooting at the corner of Bay and Queen Sts. left four people — including a woman in her 30s — with non-life threatening gunshot wounds.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders appealed to thousands of video-taking fans to help his officers in their investigation of the shooting that marred the massive and otherwise peaceful Raptors victory parade.

“We are trying to piece together a comprehensive picture of what happened,” Saunders said hours after the shooting Monday.

“There were so many people and so many cameras, maybe 100,000 shooting events that you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting thousands,” he added. “There were a million people on the streets, so when you think no one will be hurt when this occurs, it’s not believable.”

Saunders applauded the first responders who had to penetrate the crowds to help wounded victims.

“Unequivocally, we responded fantastically under the circumstances,” the police chief said.

Three people were in police custody Monday, although no charges were immediately laid, and police seized two firearms.

Saunders appealed to Raptors fans who may have captured the moments on their cell phone cameras to upload them to tps.on.ca/bayqueen.

Mayor John Tory issued a statement wishing the injured a quick recovery.

“It is disappointing and I’m sure a source of anger for more than just me that anyone would carry a gun and discharge it at what was otherwise a joyous celebration,” Tory said. “I hope those found responsible will be held to account to the full extent that the law permits.”

Andrew Singh told The Canadian Press he heard what appeared to be gunshots before people started scrambling.

“We just saw the girl drop to the floor and the guy running off,” the 29-year-old said. “ All I heard was bop, bop, bop.”

As sportscaster Matt Devlin introduced dignitaries and Raptors players to the stage, a huge crowd surged eastward with people running frantically from the intersection of Queen and Bay.

One person was heard screaming: “People have been shot … Run!”

To the east of Old City Hall, another wave of people were scrambling, fleeing south.

Moments later, armed Emergency Task Force officers ran east along Queen St. towards Yonge St., with another set of officers running north along James St., just outside the Eaton Centre.

The mayhem broke briefly when Devlin announced there was an emergency taking place, but the crowd was sent scattering again.

People seeking refuge inside the Eaton Centre and adjacent Hudson Bay and Saks stores found doors locked.

More fans ran north along Bay Street and City Hall, grabbing up their children and holding them in front of them as they fled.

A few people in the crowd shouted “van” which only spurred more panic as many recalled the infamous Yonge St. van attack that killed 10 people on Yonge St. last year.

Huddling near fences and behind concrete planters, many fans urged the runners to slow down and expressed disappointment that a few instigators would cause trouble at such a happy event that drew an estimated 2 million attendees.

People comforted each other, and one woman clutched her sobbing daughter.

More fans were sandwiched up the steps and onto the grass outside Old City Hall.

Later, some people leaving the area could be seen limping or with scraped knees.

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