TORONTO - Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie wasn't sure what he had heard when the sound of gunshots rang out at the downtown Eaton Centre on Saturday evening.
It didn't take long for him to realize it was the real deal. One look at the faces of the shoppers running for the exits told him all he needed to know.
"It was instant panic," Lawrie said Sunday morning. "It was almost like as if you stepped on an anthill and then everyone just flooded right out of the whole place. It was one of those things that you almost think, 'was it real or was it not?'
"You've just got to get out of there. You can't sit and wait around. So I just got out of there as fast as possible."
Police investigators were hunting for the shooter Sunday and reviewing security video. The shooting left one person dead and injured several others.
Lawrie said he was in the area of the shooting — a busy food court — just 10 seconds earlier. He and a friend were walking up from the mall's lower level when they heard the gunshots.
"As soon as we were going up the first flight of stairs we heard just like, bang bang bang bang bang, as fast as you could pull the trigger," Lawrie said. "We were kind of skeptical on what we heard. Sure enough we turn around and there's a bunch of people running up the stairs. Usually these people wouldn't be running out of a public place like they were.
"So that was a trigger to myself and to my buddy to get out of there as fast as possible."
Lawrie took to Twitter shortly after leaving the mall. He was one of the first people to provide a first-hand account of what was happening.
"Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall .. Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... Through traffic ...," Lawrie tweeted.
He then described a chaotic scene in his next tweet.
"People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow."
Lawrie, who has over 125,000 followers on Twitter, also tweeted a picture of the scene outside the mall that was featured prominently on news websites.
"I just thought I'd give it out there to anybody that could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there asap, that I thought I could give them a good piece of information," he said of his tweets.
The Langley, B.C., native was one of the first people to reach the exits.
"It was get out of there as fast as possible," he said. "Get safe, get to a place where you know you're going to be all right and then just analyze what was going on."
Earlier that afternoon, Lawrie and the Blue Jays dropped a 7-4 decision to the Boston Red Sox at the nearby Rogers Centre.
Lawrie and his friend weren't shopping for anything specific at the mall. They were on their way to an electronics store across the road when the shooting occurred.
"It's crazy. It's one of those things that you think would just never happen," Lawrie said. "I just found myself in a weird place at the wrong time. I'm thankful that I'm OK and hopefully everyone else is going to be OK that was inside. One person dead, so it was just one of those things where you've got to realize where you're at in your life. I'm happy that I'm OK."
After the shooting, Lawrie tweeted that he was "Rattled right now."
"The more I thought about it, I was just glad that I was with my buddy because we talked about it a little bit," Lawrie said. "But the more that I thought about it, it was just like that I did get lucky because we were right down there 10 seconds before so you don't know what could have happened."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell was also asked about it before the game.
"It's an unfortunate situation and certainly all of our thoughts go out to those who are affected by it," Farrell said. "But thankfully as it relates to us, the fact he was there, he did what he felt was right and tried to make other people aware of the situation. I think he did the right thing by evacuating."
A moment of silence for the victims of the shooting was observed before the series finale against the Red Sox.
Lawrie, 22, is in his first full season with the Blue Jays. He entered play Sunday with four home runs, 21 RBIs and a .276 batting average.
The Toronto Star has spoken with accused gunman Christopher Husbands' father, Burchell Husbands, who says he is scared his family will face relation from gang members.
“Right now the whole family’s scared,” he told the Star. “We don’t know who’s going to come here just now.”
According to Husbands, his son became involved in Regent Park gangs as a teenageer and recently survived an attack that left him with 20 stab wounds.
Toronto Police have released a photo of Ahmed Hassan, the 24-year-old man killed at the Eaton Centre.
Police have also posted a transcript of their statement from today's press conference here.
The man killed in the Eaton Centre shooting was facing charges in Fort McMurray, Alta. for drug trafficking, reports the CBC.
Hassan was charged with trafficking cocaine in January 2010 along with five others.
CBC also reports that Hassan was a suspect in the murder of one of his co-accused.
Christopher Husbands made his first court appearance today, reports the Globe and Mail.
Husbands, 23, is charged with one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder.
There are also reports of a gun being fired downtown just a few hours before the Eaton Centre shooting in the Alexanda Park neighbourhood, reports the Globe:
Mike Spicer said he heard gunshots and saw a man running east -- in the direction of the Eaton Centre -- while holding a gun. The man was running toward Spadina on a street several blocks south of College Street, Mr. Spicer said.
“We heard three shots fired, and we just said, ‘Oh, it sounds like a gun,’” he said. “And all three of us looked that were in the car and there was a guy running down the street toward us with a gun.”
He said the man was holding a handgun in his right hand as he ran. He described him as black and said he was wearing a grey hoodie and loose-fitting black jeans.
Police have so far declined to comment on reports of the Spadina-area shooting.
Councillor Adam Vaughan said it’s not clear how, or if, the two incidents are related. “For a while it looked like the two were directly connected, but they are part of the same issue we’ve been managing, or trying to manage, without any resources,” he said. “But it’s unclear now how intricately the two are related.”
|@ acoyne : Cops say suspect had just got out of jail (5 yrs) for crimes related to 2005 "Summer of Gun." http://t.co/S5mAvv2x|
"It's been a terrible couple of days," said Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the press conference, repeating that he believes Toronto is the safest city in the world.
In response to a media question about city youth outreach, he said that he doesn't "think we need more youth workers. Proof is in the pudding, crime is going down every year."
Det. Sgt Borg: "I do not believe this to be a gang-motivated shooting."
He added, "I believe there's personal aspects involved."
Det. Sgt. Brian Borg has confirmed that 23-year-old Christopher Husbands of Toronto will be charged with one account of first degree murder and six accounts attempted murder.
Husbands surrendered to police at 2:20 a.m. last night with his lawyer present. He was under house arrest at the time of the shooting.
The autopsy of Ahmed Hassan was completed yesterday and the official cause of death is gun shot injuries.
The 23-year-old man still in hospital with neck and chest remains in critical condition.
The 13-year-old boy "continues to improve" and Det. Sgt. Borg says he is "extremely happy to report that both he and his family are doing well in spite of all that they have endured."
|@ TorontoPolice : Anyone with photo/video from shooting homicide at Eaton Centre is asked to send it to TPS Homcide via http://t.co/uQqXmfbS ~wd|
|@ dwightdrummond : In an hour Toronto police will identify Christopher Husbands as the suspect in the Eaton Centre shooting.|
|@ kimberlyviv : In the Eaton Centre... Urban Eatery is dead... So weird to see it that way.|
|@ KatieSimpson24 : I'm told the Eaton Centre shooting suspect is either in his 20s or very early 30s. Further arrests are not expected. Full details coming up|
|@ MarinaStrauss : Scene of the crime @ eaton centre. Pple staring down at fOod court in disbelief. Closed today. Reopening tomorrow http://t.co/7VnPhm3n|
The suspect in the shooting case turned himself into police last night at 2:30 a.m., accompanied by his lawyer reports the Globe and Mail.
Toronto Police will be providing an update on the suspect this afternoon.
|@ globeandmail : Torontonians remain unafraid in wake of Eaton Centre shooting http://t.co/1Cd0Cofi (from @globetoronto)|
Nick Kalakonis, 22, was hit in the thigh by a bullet, but considers himself lucky his injuries ended there.
|@ globeandmail : Relatives of Eaton Centre shooting victims share their views on Toronto http://t.co/kcBa21bX (from @globetoronto)|
|@ globeandmail : Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty respond to the Eaton Centre shooting http://t.co/Y1CVFTWh|
|@ HiMYSYeD : Message written on Eaton Centre Door. #EatonCentreShooting #Toronto http://t.co/3yKMfaru|
Thirteen-year-old boy who suffered the most serious injury in the Eaton Centre shooting showing "signs of improvement," according to the National Post. Infographic details all known facts about the victims.
|@ Usualsuspectguy : At the vigil for the Eaton Centre shooting that happened yesterday taking place at Younge & Dundas Sq http://t.co/b4B1JjW4|
A vigil for the Eaton Centre shooting victims will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square at 6 p.m.
The Facebook page advertising the vigil reads:
"On June 2, a horrible event happened in Toronto. Someone went into one of the city's favourite places, and decided to open fire. They killed one person, injured a few more, and the resulting chaos resulted in two more injured.
This is not Toronto."
|@ stephaniesmyth : #Toronto #EatonCentre to re-open for business tomorrow; however food court - scene of fatal #Mallshooting - to remain closed until Tuesday.|
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford began his Sunday afternoon radio show with a statement on the Eaton Centre shooting.
"Every heart in Toronto was torn last night, as we all learned about the horrible tragedy that resulted from a senseless, cowardly crime," he said. Read the full statement on Blogs.canoe.ca.
Both Toronto Police and Mayor Rob Ford are stressing that this is an isolated incident and Toronto is still a safe city.
"This is one very large horrific event, but it's not the state of the city of Toronto, it's an isolated incident," said deputy chief Jeff McGuire. "Please do not gauge the city on what we saw yesterday."
Ford called Toronto the "safest city in the world" and encouraged people to "go downtown, enjoy themselves, go out with their family, continue to live as they do."
Police are releasing very few details about the investigation, only that the abundance of security cameras has proved "extremely fruitful" for investigators.
They are asking anyone who was at or around the Eaton Centre at the time of the shooting and has any information to call the homicide squad or Crimestoppers.
Anyone with photos or video from the scene are especially being urged to aid police in their investigation. Det. Sgt. Borg said police will release more details tomorrow on how witnesses can send in photos and video.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford described yesterday's shooting as "very upsetting as the mayor and as a father. It wasn't a good day yesterday."
Ford is confident that the shooter will be caught.
"We will apprehend the suspect, I guarantee it," he said. "We're not going to tolerate this in our city and we will make an arrest."
At a press conference, Det. Sgt. Brian Borg confirmed that the police believe they have identified the shooter, but have not released any details on their identity. As well, police say there is a possible gang connection as at least one of the victims has know gang ties.
"Our investigation clearly suggests this is a targeted shooting and not a random act of violence," said Det. Sgt. Borg.
He said police have not ruled out that there was a second target among the victims.
Flowers lie at the door as a member of a cleaning crew is pictured in the empty foyer of Toronto's Eaton Centre on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Police continue to investigate the Saturday's shooting which resulted in one death and seven injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Members of a cleaning crew are pictured in the window of Toronto's Eaton Centre on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Police continue to investigate the Saturday's shooting which resulted in one death and seven injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
A police officer is pictured in the empty foyer of Toronto's Eaton Centre, as a colleague and his police cruiser is reflected in the window, on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Police continue to investigate the Saturday's shooting which resulted in one death and seven injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS
Toronto police order bystanders to clear a path so EMS can move the injured to transport. (Brian Trinh)
A male gunshot victim lies on the floor at the Urban Eatery food court in Toronto's Eaton Centre as EMS tends to his wounds. (Brian Trinh)
A female victim lies on the second floor at the Eaton Centre as EMS tends to her injuries. (Brian Trinh)
Male gunshot victim lies on the floor at the Urban Eatery food court in Toronto's Eaton Centre. (Brian Trinh)
Mall security officers escort workers during the chaos. (Brian Trinh)
Toronto police seal off entrances to the Eaton Centre to conduct their interior search. (Brian Trinh)
The intersection of Yonge and Dundas was blocked off while Toronto police conducted their search for the shooter. (Brian Trinh)
The scene outside the Queen Street entrance of the Eaton Centre on Saturday, June 2, 2012. (Brian Trinh)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches the activity outside the Eaton Centre in Toronto, Saturday, June 2, 2012. A shooting that sparked mass panic at Toronto's Eaton Centre killed one person Saturday and injured seven others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Victor Biro