A Toronto man faces multiple charges after a homemade explosive device was set off in the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket yesterday, causing concern for customers who thought it was gun shots.
York Regional Police officers responded to a call at the food court of the mall at about 6:45 p.m. June 22. Upon arrival they located a "homemade incendiary device" which had been detonated. No injuries were reported.
Officers learned that a male suspect had placed the device in a planter box in the food court and then fled the scene.
However, the canine unit located a man shortly after in the area of Eagle Street West and Davis Drive. Michael Gatdula, 19, of Toronto was arrested and is now facing a number of charges.
Gatdula is charged with:
- Arson with disregard for human life
- Mischief endangering life
- Assault with a weapon
- Unlawful possession of explosives
- Use of explosives with intent: destroy property/possession to endanger life x3
- Weapons dangerous
After the incident residents took to local Facebook groups to ask what was going on at the mall and alert other residents of the situation. Many people who posted said they were in the mall at the time and thought it was gun fire. Others responded and said it was fireworks or fire crackers that had been set off.
In the wake of this incident YRP is reminding residents that if you see anything suspicious you should contact police. Police said "every precaution should be taken when suspicious devices or packages are found. Do not handle any material that could be hazardous or explosive, evacuate the area and call 911 immediately."
The investigation is ongoing into the situation at the mall and anyone who has information that could help investigators is asked to come forward. You can call the York Regional Police #1 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7141, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or leave an anonymous tip online.