Residents say they frightened last night to hear gunshots echo through their normally peaceful Newmarket apartment building, where a man was fatally shot by police.
Initially, residents of Heritage East Apts at 351 Crowder Blvd. said they were startled and concerned when they heard loud banging and screaming from an apartment on the third floor just after 10 p.m. Dec. 7.
York Regional Police received multiple reports of a domestic disturbance. Police said they had an interaction with a 37-year-old man in the building’s stairwell, where he was shot and pronounced deceased at the scene. A woman was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Two neighbours on the third floor said they could hear a dispute between a man and the woman who lives on the floor with her children.
“The reason I called the cops in the first place is because I heard crying and a couple banging noises,” said one of the residents, who did not wish to be identified. “It sounded like gunshots.”
Another neighbour, who also chose not to be identified, said she heard something being thrown and then what she believes were two gunshots.
“I was too scared to open the door,” she added.
A resident said the woman, whose apartment the noises seemed to be coming from, is a newer tenant and that the man was visiting.
“We don’t know if she’s OK, her kids weren’t there, and she’s wearing sunglasses because she has a black eye,” said the neighbour. “I think her dad is here supporting her.”
After the initial sound of gunshots, the neighbour called 911 and noted it was quiet for a few minutes before police arrived. As officers reached the third floor, she pointed out the apartment where the noises were coming from.
“The guy then comes flying out of the elevator and across the hall to the stairwell and I saw his gun,” she said. “Most of the shots at first came from the guy.”
Another resident of the building told NewmarketToday she heard about six or seven shots during the interaction between the man and police.
The third floor neighbours said nothing like this has happened in their apartment building and that the police have only been called for the occasional fight.
“I’ve never been that close to something like that,” a neighbour said. “It was petrifying.”
Tristan Wannan, who was visiting family in the area, said he heard gunshots and had a friend call him to tell him he heard over scanners that shots had been fired. He then immediately went outside to see what was going on.
“There were a bunch of officers standing on the first floor of the building by the elevator at the stairwell,” he said. “There was a female there speaking with police, saying, ‘You killed him, you killed him.’ It was very surreal. It was like a scene out of a movie.”
Wannan said he heard the gunshots from the first floor while he was on the third floor and that a lot of tenants had come out of their apartments to see what was happening.
“Today is still pretty frantic,” he said. “When I left for work this morning, they were cleaning, I guess, the scene. And I didn’t see much, but from what I could see, I’d seen some blood in the hallway.”
Wannan said it’s frightening to know that something like this can happen in a town like Newmarket.
“It’s a very scary thing to have happen in what used to be a very beautiful, loving, caring, friendly town and, unfortunately, we are no longer in that same town that we were in,” he said.
The province’s SIU was notified and has invoked its mandate, and York Regional Police #1 District criminal investigation bureau is conducting a parallel investigation, police said.
Residents of the building said that the SIU showed up between 2 and 3 a.m. They remain on the scene today investigating and speaking with witnesses.
The SIU could be seen speaking with a woman in her 30s wearing sunglasses in the lobby of the apartment building this morning, with an older man alongside her.
Five investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case. The post-mortem is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 9.
-With files from Debora Kelly