Gunman has links to Toronto shooting, police say; man arrested in Friday morning arrest

Canada arrested a man linked to a shooting rampage that killed two people at Toronto’s transit hub on Thursday night and sparked a massive manhunt.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said shortly after 5 p.m. ET Friday that 30-year-old Karim Cheurfi was arrested without incident on Friday morning and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He did not say if any of the weapons used during the attack in Toronto’s financial district had been recovered.

Cheurfi is known to police and is not considered a threat to the public, Saunders said. The arrests were made before the suspect was identified.

Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, has been charged with planning a terrorist activity. Saunders confirmed that one person died at the Islamic Cultural Centre near Yonge and Lawrence streets at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. The Islamic center posted a message on its Facebook page saying it is “shocked and saddened by the tragic event that occurred last night.”

A 33-year-old woman who has not been identified but is believed to be a part of an Islamic religious association, and who was also at the cultural center at the time of the attack, was also killed, Saunders said. He said the woman is believed to be the “primary victim.”

In all, 11 people were wounded during the six-minute shooting spree, Saunders said. He added the bloodshed was believed to be an isolated incident.

All of the victims, including the 10 who were shot, were hospitalized, but most were expected to survive, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said Friday at a news conference. Two people were in surgery late Thursday night, and three others were in critical condition.

“You can’t actually comprehend why someone would do something like this,” said 51-year-old Betty Kornegay, who helped usher a group of people from the area. “I’m glad that I wasn’t there when it happened, but I’m thinking, ‘If I had been there, would I have helped?’”

The incident unfolded just after 9 p.m. Thursday, when three men wearing light-colored clothing opened fire on a streetcar in the city’s north end. The suspects fled in the streetcar and then one of them ran outside and shot the woman before fleeing back inside, police said.

Television footage from the scene showed the streetcar lying on its side with a person lying on top of it. Blood was seen splattered on the ground.

Two victims were in life-threatening condition, though two had been upgraded to stable condition, Saunders said. The fatality was a woman who was shot multiple times, Saunders said.

At least eight witnesses have come forward with information, and police will prepare a summary of the information for the special Toronto no-fly list, which shows the person’s criminal record, Saunders said.

Police asked anyone who saw the men running from the scene of the shooting or who saw any suspicious activity in the area, including bikes, to call them.

On Friday morning, police cordoned off the entire intersection near the site of the attack and a nearby strip mall and told people to avoid the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement expressing his condolences to the families of the victims.

“Like all Canadians, I am sickened by the senseless violence that took place in Toronto last night. Tonight, our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, and all those who were affected by this horrific act,” Trudeau said.

He said he was pleased that police have apprehended one suspect, but added that he knows the investigation is far from over.

“Canada’s Muslim community is strong and resilient and plays an important role in our country,” he said. “I know that Muslims across Canada and in Toronto will follow this tragic news with great sadness, and are in my thoughts today.”

On Feb. 10, a man opened fire inside a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and wounding more than a dozen. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, pleaded guilty last month to all six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder with a restricted firearm.

Last summer, a white nationalist attacked a crowd of people peacefully protesting the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The counter-protester was killed. The attacker has admitted to the crime but says he was acting out of opposition to multiculturalism.

FOX News’ Barbara Starr and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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