An explosion at a restaurant outside of Toronto has sent shockwaves through the community, but police say there is no indication the incident was a hate crime or an act of terrorism.
Peel Regional Police say the blast took place Thursday at a Mississauga, Ont., restaurant located in a plaza at the northeast corner of Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET.
Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans held a Friday morning news conference where she confirmed 15 people were injured in the incident, ranging in age from 23 to 69. By Friday afternoon, police had announced that all of the victims admitted to hospital had been released.
“This is a really serious investigation,” Evans told reporters. “We want to take our time, make sure we’re very methodical in it. So we’re putting a lot of resources into this right now.”
Evans stressed the police investigation is in its early stages.
“There is no indication that this is a terrorist act, no indication that this is a hate crime. At this time, we haven’t ruled anything out as we start our investigation,” Evans said, as reported by CBC News.
Three of the injured victims were originally listed in critical condition and have since been upgraded to stable condition after being transported to a Toronto trauma centre, the chief said. They include a 35-year-old Brampton, Ont., man, a 48-year-old Mississauga woman and a 62-year-old Mississauga woman.
“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the victims and their families. We know that this is an extremely difficult time for them,” Evans said.
“I want to assure everyone that every police resource is being used right now to locate the people responsible for this horrendous act,” she continued.
— Bonnie Crombie (@BonnieCrombie) May 25, 2018
An “improvised explosive device,” otherwise known as an IED, was set off after “two men wearing hoodies” were seen entering the restaurant, the chief confirmed. She added the male suspects fled the scene immediately following the explosion and have yet to be apprehended.
Police across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are assisting in the search for these men, Evans told reporters.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says she is thankful none of the victims were children.
“This is not our Mississauga,” Crombie tweeted Friday. “I’m calling on the perpetrators to turn themselves in.”
Police described the first man as being 5’10” to 6-feet tall with a stocky build in his mid-20s. He has light skin with dark blue jeans, a dark-coloured zip hoodie, a baseball cap with a light grey peak.
The second man is described by police as standing 5’9″ to 5’10” with fair skin and a thin build. He was wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie with a brass-coloured zipper and the hood pulled up over his head, a grey T-shirt, dark-coloured skate shoes.
Both male suspects had their faces covered with a dark material, according to police.
Andre Larrivee said he was watching TV in his nearby condominium building when he heard the explosion.
“It was really loud,” he told The Canadian Press.
The incident took place at one of the three Bombay Bhel locations in the GTA. The people behind this Indian restaurant issued a statement on Google on Friday morning.
“It was an extremely horrific and sad incident that happened at our Hwy 10 location yesterday evening. We want to thank you for all of your support and well wishes, especially to the families that were affected.”
This is not our #Mississauga. Thankfully there were not any fatalities and none of the victims were children. I’m calling on the perpetrators to turn themselves in. If you have any information, please call Peel Police. @PeelPoliceMedia will provide updates throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/U0pC4FbAZT
— Bonnie Crombie (@BonnieCrombie) May 25, 2018
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on behalf of the federal government, saying they are working closely with police and officials in Mississauga.
“We’re in solidarity with the victims of this violence, and wish a swift recovery to the injured,” Trudeau said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also expressed her condolences on Twitter and confirmed the provincial government is monitoring the situation.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the news out of Mississauga. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and our thanks go out to the first responders.”
We're in solidarity with the victims of this violence, and wish a swift recovery to the injured. We’re working closely with police and officials in Mississauga on this. https://t.co/AQBuFZPXNY
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 25, 2018
We are all shocked and saddened by the news out of Mississauga. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and our thanks go out to the first responders. We are monitoring the situation and I will be briefed first thing this morning.
— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) May 25, 2018
The Consulate General of India announced on Twitter they have set up a hotline to assist those affected. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also tweeted about the incident, saying “missions will work round the clock.”
The blast took place less than 30 kilometres west of Toronto’s city hall. According to 2016 Census data, Mississauga is the sixth most populous city in Canada and is home to more people than Winnipeg and Vancouver.
The Consulate General of India in Toronto has opened a helpline in view of the explosion at an Indian restaurant in Mississauga. For any assistance, pl call +1-647-668-4108.
— IndiainToronto (@IndiainToronto) May 25, 2018
There is a blast in Indian restaurant Bombay Bhel in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I am in constant touch with our Consul General in Toronto and Indian High Commissioner in Canada. Our missions will work round the clock. The Emergency number is : +1-647-668-4108.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 25, 2018
With files from The Canadian Press