A peaceful day in a Vaughan, Ontario plaza turned into a dire situation Wednesday when a man entered an RBC bank branch with a gun and took 13 people hostage.
York Regional Police got the call at around 1 p.m. and arrived at the Royal Bank branch at Dufferin Street and Major Mackenzie Drive West shortly after.
Their emergency response unit attempted to negotiate with the suspect, later identified as a 25-year-old Vaughan resident, but an undisclosed chain of events led to two officers firing shots at the man and leaving him dead at the scene.
Const. Andy Pattenden said police are working with the province’s Special Investigations Unit to learn the details of the incident, and to support the patrons and employees present in the bank, all of whom were uninjured.
“The people that were involved in this are definitely traumatized,” Pattenden said at the scene. “We’re working closely with Victim Services now to support those people through this tough time.”
When police arrived, they went to surrounding businesses and informed them of the situation, telling them to hide in their buildings and stay away from any windows and doors.
An employee of the pharmacy in the plaza was completely unaware of the hostage situation taking place mere metres away from his workplace.
“I didn’t know there was an action going on until I saw all these [police] cars coming in,” the man said, and asked that his name not be used. “It was kind of like a movie.”
The man said he remained quite calm throughout the ordeal, although his thoughts were mainly on those who were taken hostage.
“I was neutral, but the thing is I was worried about the people in the bank, that’s all.”
At around 3 p.m., the police evacuated the surrounding buildings and took civilians to a neighbouring plaza. The civilians in the bank were released once police determined there was no longer any danger.
Other than age and residency, no information was provided by police or the SIU on the nature of the hostage-taker’s actions.
Pattenden said their team of investigators will be “working tirelessly” to discover the man’s motive behind this, and exactly how events transpired.
Read the York Regional Police news release here.
RBC issued a statement on Thursday about the incident.
“Our number one priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our clients and employees and we are extremely relieved that they are all safe and accounted for,” the statement said. “Employees and clients are receiving support during this difficult time.”
The Royal Bank branch was expected to reopen on Monday, but there is no word if any of the employees present during the incident will be returning to work that day.