UPDATE: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Crowds gather in Nathan Phillips Square as they prepare to celebrate the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship in Toronto on Monday, June 17, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Hours of anticipation gave way to unbridled euphoria as a sea of Raptors fans greeted the newly crowned NBA champions with cheers, whistles and chants on Monday, but elation quickly turned to fear when gunshots interrupted the celebration in downtown Toronto.

Moments after the team emerged on stage during a rally at the end of a victory parade, the sound of gunfire sent dozens of panicked supporters running from the one end of Nathan Phillips Square, grabbing friends and children as they fled.

The festivities were briefly suspended as one of the hosts alerted the masses, most of whom had been there since the morning, that there was an emergency. Organizers urged the public to stay calm and the event resumed shortly afterwards.

Police said two people had been shot and suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. Two suspects were arrested and firearms recovered, police said.

Some fans said they feared for their lives and remained shaken even after the situation returned to normal. Others said the shooting, though frightening, should not mar the festivities.

“It’s so horrible that that happened but we are united as a city and that shouldn’t define who we are or what today was about,” said Ahilan Sivakumar, 19.

Several had huddled near pillars in Nathan Phillips Square even as the team and several dignitaries — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford — remained on stage during the rally. Others dashed into a nearby hotel or leapt into bushes to get out of the way. The ceremony wrapped up a short time later.

Andrew Singh said 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.”

The rally — and the shooting that interrupted it — capped off a day that saw fans dressed in red and black — the Raptors’ colours — take over swaths of the city’s downtown. City officials said more than a million people were gathered in and around the area.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No increase in property taxes for Sylvan Lake residents

Town Council passes the 2020 Tax Bylaw at Monday’s council meeting

PHOTOS: Sylvan Lake teachers say hello to students at drive through

Ecole Mother Teresa School arranged a drive through for families to say hello to their teachers

Sylvan Lake Community Partners seeking donations

Community Partners is still open and ready to help, says Jen Baliant

Sylvan Lake RCMP lay child luring charge

David Brown, 38, of Sylvan Lake was arrested on May 26 after a complaint received on May 19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Sylvan Lake News is firmly committed to seeing you through the changes ahead, but we need your help

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Sylvan Lake News is firmly committed to seeing you through the changes ahead, but we need your help

Feds look for exit amid talks with Quebec on keeping military in care homes

Feds look for exit amid talks with Quebec on keeping military in care homes

Trudeau, allies call for global unity at UN summit on pandemic recovery

Trudeau, allies call for global unity at UN summit on pandemic recovery

Dysfunction in long-term care takes toll on overburdened workforce: association

Dysfunction in long-term care takes toll on overburdened workforce: association

Liberal MPs call for national standards for long-term care homes

Liberal MPs call for national standards for long-term care homes

Shares in nursing home companies plunge in the wake of Ontario care scandal

Shares in nursing home companies plunge in the wake of Ontario care scandal

Private nursing home owners under pressure as COVID-19 exposes flaws in system

Private nursing home owners under pressure as COVID-19 exposes flaws in system

Canada a series of ‘regional epidemics,’ top doctor says as provinces hit snags

Canada a series of ‘regional epidemics,’ top doctor says as provinces hit snags

Most Read