Police renew calls for info on shooting that left TTC toll collector with lasting injuries
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, February 27, 2017 5:25AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 27, 2017 1:02PM EST
It’s been five years since a TTC collector was shot during an attempted robbery and investigators are using the anniversary to drum up renewed interest in the case, offering a cash reward to anyone who can provide them with new information
It was Feb. 26, 2012, when a suspect approached a TTC collector’s booth at Dupont Station, demanded cash and pulled out a handgun.
When the TTC employee hesitated to comply with the demand, police say the suspect started to walk away but then turned and opened fire.
Bullets pierced through the glass of the collectors booth and struck the TTC employee in the neck and shoulder.
The suspect, according to investigators, fled the station empty-handed and the victim was rushed to hospital in serious condition.
Though the employee survived the attack, he suffered life-altering injuries that have forced him to remain on disability leave.
Police believe the same suspect carried out two other robberies at the same station in June and October of 2011 where “some cash” was obtained.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference Monday, February 27, 201 Hold-Up Staff Insp. Mike Earl said the investigation has “gone dry” and that the suspect has “literally disappeared.”
“This is a very unique situation. I’ve been in the hold-up squad since 2011 and prior to that I was an investigator for nine years. I’ve never seen anything like this before where the same place has been targeted,” Earl said.
“(It was) the same place three times, four months apart and no other crimes were committed, that we can tell, by this individual in the GTA or in the province of Ontario.”
For the first time in the TTC’s history, the transit agency offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the case.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross told reporters Monday that the reward “remains on the table” for anyone who is able to provide police with information that “leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this senseless crime.”
“It’s something as an organization, as an employer and as employees you never forget,” Ross said. “One of your colleagues was shot and almost killed over what amounted to a couple of dollars and, in fact, no money was taken in this particular case.”
Following the shooting, Ross said the TTC implemented a number of new efforts to prevent or reduce similar incidents. The changes included installing “greater bullet resistance glass” to collector booths, reducing the amount of cash held in collectors booths and the rollout of debit and credit capabilities at subway stations.
“And in fact, in about a year from now, there will be no more cash in the system other than through vending machines,” Ross said. “Our collectors and our employees will no longer handle fare and therefore no longer handle any money. So that will eliminate almost entirely these types of situations.”
He said the employee is still recovering and requires more medical procedures.
“It’s devastating, as you can imagine, being shot and hit and almost dying,” he said. “We’re providing, as an employer, all the support that the employee needs and we will continue to do that.”
Earl said there have been two separate robberies at TTC collectors booth this year, three in 2016 and five in 2015. Though none of the robberies are connected to the Dupont Station shooting, Earl said the need to apprehend this particular suspect is great due to the violent nature of the crime.
“We want to make sure they are protected and we work with the TTC very closely to ensure these employees are protected. We heighten security and heighten patrols when these robberies happen with our divisional policing officers to ensure that they’re protected,” he said.
“We do everything we possible can and the best thing we can do is lock this individual up and get them right off the streets.”
Earl hopes that with the passing of time, people may feel more inclined to come forward with information they previously felt unsure about revealing.
“It happens all the time where eventually something gets the better of you and you want to tell somebody something,” he said. “Or some individual may have known somebody who committed these crimes back in 2011 and 2012 and were afraid to come forward.”
“Maybe they need a little nudge, maybe this is the nudge they need.”
The suspect is described as white woman or man, between 35 and 40 years old with a stocky build. They were last seen wearing all black clothing and a black balaclava. Earl said, in each robbery, the suspect used their left hand to point or hold the revolver and their right hand to demand cash.
He added that early in the investigation, police received third-hand information about the suspect potentially fleeing the station in a silver, four-door car on MacPhearson. He said that witness never came forward to police.
“It’s an animal act committed by some type of coward for no good reason,” Earl said.
“Unfortunately, we have a hard-working person that is now suffering probably for now the rest of his life with injuries and medical injuries, for what? For nothing. For a few dollars.”
Anyone with information about the investigation is being asked to call police.