08/26/2016 05:07 EDT | Updated 08/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Crossbow incident leaves three dead, one injured in east-end Toronto

TORONTO — Three people suffering from what appeared to be wounds from a crossbow died in Toronto on Thursday in an incident that rocked an otherwise quiet neighbourhood in the city's east end.

Police said an injured fourth person — a 35-year-old man — was taken into custody, but few other details of what happened were released.

The victims were found in the driveway of a bungalow by officers who responded to a stabbing report in the early afternoon.

"Indications were that (a) person had been stabbed — their injuries were fairly serious," Const. David Hopkinson said. "When officers arrived, they found that person and two others suffering from injuries from what we believe to be a crossbow bolt."

Three people — two men and a woman — were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. A crossbow was found nearby on the floor.

Police, who immediately swarmed the area, were not looking for any suspects, Hopkinson said.

About four hours after the incident, police said there was a link between the deaths and a suspicious package found in downtown Toronto. They said the downtown scene, which was near a building housing a daycare, was declared safe by 5 p.m.

In the east-end neighbourhood of Scarborough, however, streets remained blocked off Thursday evening as police continued to investigate. Aerial footage of the area shot by local TV station CP24 showed what appeared to be blood on the driveway of a bungalow on a tree-lined street.

Vijaya Cruz, whose house backs on to the bungalow where the incident is believed to have taken place, said she was home with her husband Thursday afternoon when he heard a commotion.

"My husband said he heard some screaming, someone was screaming there," she said. "Then he said he heard 'bang, bang, bang' noise, and then someone was saying 'calm down.'"

Cruz said she soon saw the flashing lights of a fire truck which was among the emergency crews that responded to the scene. Police later knocked on her door and told her three people had died in an incident involving a crossbow.

Cruz said she had seen a couple in the bungalow's backyard on occasion, but said she didn't know much about them.

"I see them working in the garden, a man and a woman, I see them with a wheelbarrow, cleaning up the yard," she said. "They don't talk."

Faiza Siddiqui, who lives on an adjoining street next to a park, said the incident was disturbing. 

"It's scary because this park is always full with kids," she said. "You don't hear about people being killed by crossbows, especially in the city. I don't know why you would need that in the city, have it around the house."

Sadiya Haque, who also lives nearby, added that the neighbourhood was typically a tranquil one, with many seniors living on the street where the incident took place.

Dale Lounsbury, who sells crossbows at a sporting goods store in Waterloo, Ont., and owns one himself, said they can be dangerous due to their power and accuracy. But they are not suited to firing multiple shots in quick succession, he said.

"Crossbows are not a rapid-fire instrument at all," Lounsbury said. "I can probably fire two shots a minute, maybe three."

Unlike guns, buying a crossbow does not require a licence.

In December 2010, a man fired a bolt into his father's back at a Toronto public library branch in another crossbow incident that captured the city's attention. In that case, Zhou Fang then crushed his 52-year-old father's skull with a hammer.

Fang was initially charged with first-degree murder but the prosecution accepted a plea of second-degree murder after considering that he was the victim of long-term abuse at the hands of his father.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

— With files from Diana Mehta