Tuesday marks one year since a TTC collector was shot during an attempted robbery at the Dupont Street subway station, and police are still trying to track down a witness, and a suspect.
A year later, Staff Inspector Mike Earl who heads up the Hold Up Squad, says investigators have received numerous tips, but none has lead them to the information they need to put the person responsible for this brazen attack behind bars.
It was around 7:10p.m., on what started out as a typical Sunday night, when the then 52-year-old collector was approached by an armed suspect dressed all in black and wearing a balaclava. The suspect demanded money, but the collector said he didn't have any.
"The victim advised the suspect that he had no cash. The suspect walked away from the victim towards the exit doors. At that point in time the victim picked up the phone and the suspect turned and fired three shots at the victim, striking him twice," said Staff Inspector Mike Earl.
The collector, who had been at the TTC for 10 years, was hit in the neck and shoulder and required extensive surgery. To this day he has not returned to work at the TTC.
“He’s on the mend. Physically he’s a lot better. There is still a bit of a way to go with him but we’re making sure he’s well looked after. It was shocking what happened to him, so I’ve personally taken an interest in making sure that he’s looked after and that he’s given every support as is only right,” said TTC CEO Andy Byford.
The TTC are in the process of implementing a number of new security measures including putting a bullet resistant film inside all collector booths, and switching the gap where money is exchanged at the booths to a dealer tray device.
In an unprecedented move, the Toronto Transit Commission also offered up a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
But the shooter isn't the only person police are trying to track down. A Good Samaritan gave chase that night after the shots rang out, even relaying what he saw to a witness in the subway. However, when officers arrived on the scene, the man who chased the suspect was nowhere to be found.
"The suspect fled southbound on Spadina from Dupont Street and was chased by a witness to the area of Spadina and McPherson. At that point in time the suspect got into a silver or grey motor vehicle and then disappeared. The witness who chased this suspect has never come forward. And we know that this person chased the suspect because the unknown witness stopped another person and advised them that the person he had been chasing was the person responsible for the shooting at the subway."said Staff Inspector Earl.
One year later, police are renewing their appeal to that witness to come forward.
"We're still looking for that witness to come forward. We've received numerous tips from the public and from Crime Stoppers in regards to this investigation. The members of the Hold Up Squad have conducted several interviews but have exhausted all leads to date. We're still looking for any information on this incident so that we can put closure to the case," said Staff Inspector Earl.
As for the suspect, there are several surveillance images of the person police say may be male or female.
"The suspect was described as being a male at first, but through the video and through the pictures it's very hard to say. And some of the witnesses can't really tell whether it is a male or a female. The person is very well-disguised," said Staff Insp. Earl
The suspect is described as 35-50 years of age, heavy-build, and around 5'5-5'9" tall. The person has no accent and has always covered their face. The suspect usually wears a dark jacket with a hood. Police say the suspect always holds the gun in their left hand.
Investigators say "usually" because the suspect has been linked to two previous robberies at the same subway station.
"One was June 11th, 2011 at 9:20p.m. And the second was October 2nd, 2011 at 7:55p.m. The interesting thing is that each one of these incidents was approximately 4 months apart."said Earl.
Investigators had warned during a news conference held shortly after the TTC shooting that the suspect may strike again. However, police believe all of the media attention may have deterred the suspect from striking again.
"It's very unusual. It's a very uncalled for act of violence and it's very troubling," said Staff Inspector Mike Earl.
Anyone with information is asked to call Toronto Police, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).