Two people died and two others were wounded after police officers opened fire on a homeless person in a downtown Toronto park, police say.
“There were two individuals that had been involved in a confrontation with police and police responded by firing their guns and hitting two individuals,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said during a news conference.
“Two individuals were injured and one of those individuals died at the scene.”
Police say the incident began when officers were called to a homeless encampment in the city’s downtown core around 1:15 p.m.
Officers say they were dealing with a man who had been harassing people there.
When they arrived, police said, the man began throwing items at officers.
“I believe that that individual had an assault rifle and several other firearms and other items,” Saunders said.
“It was not a person who had committed any criminal activity.
We don’t know why he did that.”
Police have not released any other details.
One of the officers who fired his weapon was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
A second officer was taken by ambulance to hospital and treated for non-critical injuries.
Police say they will conduct an investigation.
Police said they will be looking into why officers opened fired on a man and whether the officers acted in self-defence.
“This individual was behaving aggressively, as he should have been,” Saunders told reporters.
“He was assaulting other officers and that’s why the response by the police was justified.”
Police are also investigating a possible cover-up over the shooting.
“The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave and we are going to work with the Ontario Provincial Police and the SIU,” Saunders added.
The SIU said it has opened an investigation into the shooting of the homeless man.
“We will be going through the process of investigating that incident and will take whatever action is appropriate in our mandate,” a spokesperson for the agency told CBC News in an email.
“As with any investigation into any incident, we will cooperate fully with any appropriate investigation.”
In the past week, Toronto police have faced several high-profile shootings in the Downtown Eastside, including a shooting that killed a young man and injured a man in a car crash last week.
A series of high-speed car chases have also prompted protests across the city.
Toronto police say the department is working to make changes to improve communication and procedures, including better training and resources.