Shooting Spree Averted
This is an article that appeared in the Toronto Star yesterday.
Shooting Spree Averted police say
Man's car packed with 6,000 rounds
Wandering dog plays crucial role
A man drove from the Maritimes with a carload of guns and ammunition, vowing to kill as many people in Toronto as he could — before a last-minute encounter with a wandering dog inspired a change of heart.
The New Brunswick man, in his 40s, surrendered to police yesterday afternoon in front of a supermarket at Leslie and Eastern Sts. He had a loaded gun in his pocket and a car crammed with more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
"At that time, he decided he was going to shoot people in the area," said Detective Nick Ashley of 55 Division. "He attended a local park nearby and was preparing the weapons to do that."
By chance, a dog approached the man and started playing with him in the Victoria Park Ave. and Queen St. E. park.
"He happens to be a pet lover and decided that if there was such a nice dog in the area the people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Ashley said.
His car, a red Subaru caked with mud, provided the testament. It was packed with doggie blankets, a big plastic dog dish still filled with dry kibble — and the biggest single arsenal Ashley had seen in his 17 years with the service.
The car "was absolutely stuffed," he said.
The man didn't have a dog in the car. Police said he had left his dog in New Brunswick.
After visiting the park, the man, who police describe as mentally ill, drove around the city looking for a police officer. He found a young constable who has only been on the force for three years.
Constable Fraser Douglas, 25, was responding to a shoplifting call in front of a Leslie St. supermarket on a sunny afternoon when a man drove up behind his cruiser and honked the horn.
"He told me he was crazy and he needed to go to the hospital," the officer recalled.
And, Douglas added, he had a loaded gun in his pocket. "He said, `I'm just going to drive around and kill people at random.'"
Officers were tallying their cache last night at their Coxwell St. headquarters, counting carton after carton of bullets.
The list included: a 12-gauge shotgun, a bolt action rifle with a telescopic lens, a 9-mm semiautomatic, a machete, throwing knife, camouflage ski mask, black leather gloves, and 6,296 rounds of ammunition.
"He felt that if he shot enough people he would stay in custody permanently," Ashley said. "This could have been a very dangerous situation had his plan unfolded."
"It's scary how close it could have been. We have a dog to thank somewhere."
Investigators estimated the man would face at least six to eight "very serious" weapons charges. Because the guns were all legally registered to the suspect, the charges stem from transporting and storage.
Ooops, didn't realize the story had already been posted. Scary to think what could have happened. That dog deserves an award. In today's paper, they are trying to identify the dog, possibly a Border Collie.
Could this be the dog that rescued Toronto?
VIVIAN SONG AND JORDAN HEATH-RAWLINGS
Was it Elvis? Was it Bishop? Could it have been Mattie or Gracie?
Dog-walkers and area residents at the site of what could have been a bloodbath were grateful that a friendly canine was able to change the mind of a man found wandering with a carload of guns and ammunition.
"I don't know which dog it was, but that dog needs a big Milk-Bone and lots of TLC," said Art Wright, a construction worker at the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant at Queen St. E. and Victoria Park Ave., the same area in which a man — who told police he was on a mission to kill as many people in Toronto as he could — was approached Wednesday by a dog, who started playing with him.
The man later surrendered to police, saying the encounter had led to a change of heart.
Neighbourhood dog-walkers and dog-owners were a bit more generous than usual with the kibble treats yesterday, knowing they could have a hero at the end of their leash.
Many area residents were quick to point out one dog in particular, a black border collie named Elvis, as the possible superdog.
"There's no other dog that runs around with a Frisbee in its mouth," said Jeanie Moreland, a popular dog-walker in the community, referring to media reports that the dog was carrying a Frisbee.
"That dog plays with the Frisbee 24 hours a day."
Owner Dragana Brighton, 35, said she can't be certain it was her pooch, though she wouldn't be surprised if it was.
"Elvis changed my mind," said the doting mom.
"I wasn't a dog lover before him, but he's really adorable."
Allan Mestel, 41, was reminded yesterday of what their companions can do for them.
"The fact that a dog has averted what could have been an enormous tragedy is a real testament to the nature of the beast," he said.
Reaching down to give his pooch, Victor, a head scratch, he added:
"This guy's saved my life a few times"