Toronto police say they have arrested a man they believe was choosing his victims at random, including two people who were shot in broad daylight on city streets last week.
The suspect was likely planning more attacks, police said at a news conference on Tuesday. Authorities said when he was arrested at his home on Sunday, he had several legally purchased firearms and boxes of ammunition on the floor.
Richard Jonathan Edwin, 39, faces two counts of first-degree murder. Police say he had no criminal record.
“Lives were saved because of this arrest,” Toronto Police Chief James Ramer told reporters.
He said that “given that he had already killed two apparent strangers, as we allege, and that a cache of firearms was located at his residence, we can reasonably conclude that the swift work of our investigators has prevented further loss of life. “
The two male victims killed last week were 21 and 35 years old.
While police describe both victims as “visible minorities,” it is unknown if hatred may have motivated the attacks. Police say no words were exchanged as a gunman approached each man and shot them multiple times in attacks that took place two days apart.
Chief Ramer said there is now no threat to Toronto residents. But he said people should be aware that violence can break out randomly in big cities.
“It refers to what is currently happening in New York City: We just have to always be aware of our surroundings,” Chief Ramer said. He was referring to how at least eight people were shot on a Brooklyn subway train on Tuesday. Police in that city are searching for an attacker believed to have set off smoke bombs.
A gunman killed Toronto’s first victim last Thursday around 5 p.m. at the Sherbourne subway station. Kartik Vasudev was a 21-year-old college student from India. “He was shot multiple times and he was in a defenseless position the entire time,” Homicide Detective Sgt. Terry Browne said.
The Indian consulate in Toronto told The Globe and Mail that Mr Vasudev’s family have been granted visas should they decide to come to Canada to repatriate the body.
On Saturday there was another fatal shooting on Dundas Street near George Street at 7 pm Elijah Eleazar Mahepath, 35, was running errands when he was killed.
Both times the attacker fled on foot.
Police say they have amassed volumes of video footage related to the gunman. In at least one case, they say he shows her going from his residence to the attack and then back home.
“We have nothing to suggest that he knew any of them,” Det. Browne said. He added that “it was a chance encounter, a chance death, and for reasons known only to the suspect, these two people who were victims that day are now dead.”
Police seized several legally purchased weapons and ammunition in a raid on a home near Bloor and Spadina. These firearms included two rifles, including one that “could have caused great carnage had it been used,” Det. Browne said.
He added that “we really want to uncover the most vulnerable part of this individual.” Police know very little about the suspect and his motivations at this time.
– With Uday Rana files
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors and give you a concise summary of the day’s biggest headlines. sign up today.