Police say that a 22-year-old man accused of stealing three animals from a zoo north of Barrie has been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting in Whitchurch-Stoufville on Wednesday.

The body of a man was found lying between two vehicles parked in the lot of Churchill Community Church, near Ninth Line and Aurora Road, at around 3 p.m. after York Regional Police officers were called there for reports of a shooting.

The man, who police have identified as Alex Perlmutter of Sunderland, Ont., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said on Thursday that the shooting occurred in a parking lot at Queensville Side Road and Highway 48. Perlmutter, police said, was driven to the church parking lot by a witness.

Forensic officers have been at a plaza on Highway 48 all morning. Investigators were seen using a metal detector on grassy areas near the buildings. A dark coloured-sedan with severe front-end damage also sat near the roadway. A detective arrived at the scene by lunchtime.

The owner of a business in the plaza told CTV News Toronto that police showed up on Wednesday afternoon and told him that he needed to shut down. Police cordoned off the parking lot and have been there ever since.

York Regional Police confirmed that Perlmutter was arrested and charged in June of last year in connection with the theft of a lemur, a monkey, and a tortoise from the Elmvale Jungle Zoo.

No arrests have been made in Perlmutter’s death, but police said three male suspects were seen fleeing the area in a black or dark-coloured SUV.

The first suspect has been described as a male with cornrowed hair, wearing a camo sweater and track pants. Police believe this suspect was armed with a gun.

The second suspect has been described as a male who was wearing blue shoes. The third suspect, also a male, was reportedly wearing a "large chain."

Police provided few other details about the suspects.

Sgt. Aaron Busby said the area will be under police surveillance while an investigation is conducted.

One resident of the area told CP24 that he’s seen an increasing amount of traffic in the church parking lot.

“We’re just starting to see more and more people come… It looks like a bit of a rendezvous place, for what purpose, we don’t really know. I guess we’re getting some idea of that now, by what happened yesterday,” Ed Hakonson said. “We’re a little shaken by what happened yesterday here.”

Investigators are asking residents in the area to check their security cameras for any relevant video. Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to contact York Regional Police or Crime Stoppers.