Armed man shot and killed by police at Vaughan bank did not demand cash: source
Published Thursday, December 14, 2017 8:41AM EST Last Updated Thursday, December 14, 2017 6:41PM EST
An armed suspect who took more than a dozen people hostage at a Vaughan bank on Wednesday did not demand cash from employees, a source tells CP24.
Shortly after 1 p.m., York Regional Police say a man armed with a gun stormed into an RBC branch near Dufferin Street and Major Mackenzie Drive where he took 13 people hostage.
The first officers on the scene were able to confirm reports that the suspect was armed and quickly helped several employees and customers escape the bank.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get everyone out, so it did turn into a hostage situation for us,” Const. Andy Pattenden said.
Pattenden said a host of police teams rushed to the scene, including the canine unit, heavily armed emergency response team members and a helicopter.
Negotiations with the suspect proved unsuccessful, he said, and officers used “lethal force to gain control of the suspect.”
The Special Investigation’s Unit, the province’s police watchdog, later confirmed that two officers discharged their weapons, killing the 25-year-old man.
SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro said the agency will be investigating the interaction between the police officers and the suspect.
He added that, at this point, there’s no indication that the Vaughan-resident fired his weapon during the ordeal.
A source told CP24 on Thursday that sometime after the suspect entered the bank, he asked employees to call the police. According to the source, the man did not ask for cash but made other demands, including a request for drugs.
The motive for the situation is still under investigation.
“I can’t even tell if you it was robbery, we don’t even know at this point,” Pattenden said in the hours following the takedown. “All that we know is that there was a man with a gun inside the bank that turned into a hostage situation.”
The victims were held hostage for more than an hour but no one suffered any injuries.
Plaza patrons ‘shaken’ by situation
A number of other businesses in the Vaughan plaza were busy with customers when the armed man entered the bank on Wednesday afternoon.
One woman told CP24 that a police officer walked into the pottery studio she was in and told her and the other customers to take cover but didn’t say why.
“A cop came into our store and told us that we were fine but that we needed to get into some sort of basement or hide in general,” the woman, who identified herself only as Olivia, said.
“We’re all pretty shaken up right now.”
Officers also attended a nearby daycare full of children ranging in age between 10 months and four years old.
“We just very quickly just picked them up and moved them into the hallway,” Ellana Katzberg, the daycare owner, told CTV News Toronto. “We got some cookies and everyone was happy.”
Nasir, who did not provide his last name, told CP24 that he was inside a nearby dental office when police officers walked in and asked if they could bring the children from the daycare to the dental office for safety.
“They brought all the kids to the dental office where they stayed for about 45 minutes or an hour,” Nasir said.
“Some of them were crying… Everyone was trying to do their best, the police were helping them and carrying them. Everyone was trying to help the kids.”
A transit bus later arrived at the plaza and sheltered the children until their parents, who were notified of the situation, could pick them up.
At one point, in video from the scene, a crowd of children could be seen walking through the parking lot guided by police officers to the bus. One officer was pushing a large crib on wheels.
Area closed off for hours
After police killed the armed man, officers York Regional Police’s bomb squad swept the plaza and a large perimeter surrounding it for explosives but would not comment further on why they were called.
At one point, police were investigating a “vehicle of interest” parked near the bank.
The usually busy intersection was closed for more than 10 hours while investigators combed through the scene. It reopened shortly after 1 a.m.
In a statement, RBC said they’ve reached out to offer support to their staff.
“Our number one priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our clients and employees and we are extremely relieved that they are all safe and accounted for,” the statement read. “Employees and clients are receiving support during this difficult time.”