PEEL Regional Police Superintendent Rob Ryan will be addressing the media on Tuesday (May 29) with regard to the May 24 (Thursday) Bombay Bhel Restaurant explosion that occurred in the area of Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue in the City of Mississauga.
Police say that the purpose of this press conference is to provide an update, answer questions, and appeal for witnesses regarding the investigation.
Police have completed their investigation at the restaurant itself.
BACKGROUND (From Saturday’s print edition)
EVEN as two separate birthday parties were taking place in Bombay Bhel restaurant at 5035 Hurontario Street at Eglinton Avenue in the City of Mississauga in Ontario on Thursday at approximately 10:30 p.m., an explosive device was set off inside. Children under age 10 were at the parties, but they were not injured.
Fifteen people were injured and taken to three different hospitals. Three of those people were in critical condition and were later updated to stable condition.
The three people that suffered critical injuries were a 35-year old Brampton man, a 62-year old Mississauga woman, and a 48-year old Mississauga woman. They were transported to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. The others, who range in age from 23 to 69 years, suffered minor injuries and were treated at local hospitals and released.
Two men were seen entering the restaurant with an improvised explosive device. They were seen fleeing eastbound on foot from the scene, immediately following the explosion, police said.
The first man is described as 5’10’’- 6’ feet tall, stocky build, mid-20s, light skin, wearing dark blue jeans, dark-coloured zip-up hoodie pulled over his head, baseball cap with a light grey peak and his face covered with dark material.
The second man is described as 5’9’’- 5’10’’ feet tall, fair skin, thin build, wearing faded blue jeans, dark zip-up hoodie with a brass coloured zipper and the hood pulled over his head, grey t-shirt, dark coloured skate shoes and his face covered with dark material.
The investigators are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying these individuals. They are looking to speak to anyone who may have been in the restaurant or in the area at the time of the incident, or anyone who has dashcam or other video that may help the investigation.
Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said on Friday morning: “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.”
The restaurant had been placed under lockdown to carry out a proper investigation. There was a considerable amount of damage to the restaurant, but police could not say where exactly the blast occurred at this stage of the investigation.
Evans said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and to their families. We know this is an extremely difficult time for them. I want the community to know that every available police resource is being used to locate the people responsible for this horrendous act.”
Peel Regional Police have notified police in Toronto, York, Durham and Halton regions as well as the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP.
A police spokesperson told the media that witnesses reported seeing one of the men carrying what appeared to be a pail or paint can into the restaurant. The canine unit tried to track them, but were unsuccessful.
The restaurant posted the following on its Facebook on Friday: “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.”
The plaza is one of three at the intersection and they house various multicultural services. The South Asian community is largest visible minority in the City of Mississauga with more than 165,000 people (23 per cent of the population).
The Consulate General of India in Toronto said on social media that it has opened a helpline for anyone in need of assistance as a result of the explosion.
ONTARIO Premier Kathleen Wynne said: “The entire province of Ontario is shocked this morning by the horrific act of violence in Mississauga last night.
“Restaurants like Bombay Bhel are the heart of our communities, gathering places where friends and families come together to celebrate holidays, milestones or to catch-up after a long week. Those shared moments are what brought people to this restaurant last night when two masked men entered and shattered the peace with a homemade explosive device.
“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Our hearts go out to them and our thanks go to the first responders who tended to the wounded on scene.
“The police investigation is ongoing. It is too early to speculate about motive, but one thing is clear: this act of violence, whatever is behind it, is not who we are. It does not represent the values that make Mississauga such a dynamic, diverse and peaceful community.
“I urge anyone who may have information that could assist with the investigation to contact police. I have been briefed by security officials and will be keeping up-to-date on the situation throughout the day. We will also keep the public informed as we get new information.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford urged the public to contact police if they have any information and added: “My thoughts are with all those injured in the blast last night in Mississauga.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party is surging in the polls and may end up being the next Premier of Ontario, said the attack was “cowardly” and “an act of hatred.” She added: “We all have a right to be safe in Ontario, and we look forward to those responsible being found and brought to justice.
Investigators have provided the following information:
- Including staff and guest, there were approximately 40 people in the restaurant at the time of the explosion.
- The number of victims in this incident that were injured during this incident remains at fifteen, and all have been released from hospital.
- Our forensic identification services unit has completed the processing of the outside area, the scene which is reduced to the restaurant is being contained and will remain closed.
- All other businesses in the neighbouring buildings have been released to the owners, and they are free to determine if their businesses are suitable for regular business.
- There have been no reports of any neighbouring building or stores being impacted by the blast, however the owners may require further assessment to be certain.
- There is no further information on suspects at this time.
- Members of the community are cooperating with police
- Motive is still unknown, and the investigation is ongoing.
Bombay Bhel Restaurant Facebook comment:
We just wanted to take this time to officially say how relieved we are that all 15 people injured in this awful act of crime have been released from the hospital. Words cannot express how our hearts go out to those families. We wish them a speedy recovery.
We would like to commend and thank all the amazing first responders who were on site within minutes of our initial call to 911 who took such care of our dear customers.
The outpouring of love and solidarity, not only from Mississauga and the GTA, but from all over the world has been overwhelming.
We truly appreciate all the support and well wishes received from our customers, friends and neighbours during this difficult time. We have been serving our customers for over 30 years and will do so for another 30 years in the great city of Mississauga.
We are fully cooperating with the police during their investigation at this time as we have no knowledge of motivation for this terrible incident.
We will continue to keep you updated as information becomes available.