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Friday, March 08, 2013

Police net 10 suspects in robbery spree including Etobicoke school shooting

Arrests, including two young offenders, follow crimes culminating in gunshots at Thistletown.

Police have 10 suspects in custody, including two young offenders, after a robbery spree that culminated in shots fired at an Etobicoke school Thursday.
Toronto Star - 
Staff Insp. Mike Earl, with Toronto Police’s holdup squad, said Friday that 21 robbery-related offences have been laid stemming from crime in the city’s west end have been laid, including a shooting at Thistletown C.I. Thursday shortly after noon. Police were executing 11 search warrants Friday afternoon as the investigation continued.
Earl said the names and ages of the suspects would not be released until those warrants had been dealt with. Arrests began Thursday afternoon and continued early Friday.
He said the shooting at the school followed a series of robberies that have escalated since January and that police have identified as a pattern thanks to descriptions of a stolen vehicle and the rare use of sawed-off shotgun.
“We don’t have a lot of shotgun robberies in convenience stores,” Earl said. “I’m glad that we got them so quickly.”
The investigator said the school shooting was the first time this group has fired a shot during a robbery.
The school on Fordwich Cres. was on lockdown Thursday for several hours after the stolen, blue 2006 Toyota entered the parking lot and four disguised suspects went inside the school brandishing a gun.
The group robbed two female students of their cellphones before attempting to rob a male student, who fled as the shot was fired at him — missing and hitting a car in the parking lot, police said.
Supt. Ron Taverner, unit commander for 23 Division, said police are confident those responsible for the shooting have been arrested and recognize the situation could have been much worse, speaking to the “bravado” of the suspects.
“We feel confident that we ended a huge crime spree,” Taverner said. “It’s hard to conceive that these things happen.”
Police said the suspects typically carried out robberies with a handgun, the sawed-off shotgun or both — hitting convenience stores and gas stations.
Following the school shooting, members of the holdup squad located the stolen Toyota and when suspects returned to the car, they were arrested. Search warrants were obtained following those arrests.
Those arrested are scheduled to appear in Old City Hall court Saturday.
With files from Micah Luxen
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