In a series of unsettling incidents, moviegoers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were evacuated from cinemas showing Hindi films this week after masked individuals released an unknown aerosol-based substance. The events, currently under investigation by Canadian authorities, occurred in three separate incidents, sparking concerns about the safety of patrons.
According to reports from the York Regional Police, the first incident took place at a cinema complex in Vaughan around 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday. Two masked men, described as a Black man with a light skin tone and another individual with a light skin tone, sprayed an irritating substance into the air, causing several moviegoers to experience coughing and discomfort. The affected theatre had to be evacuated, and individuals exposed to the substance received medical attention. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported, but the suspects managed to flee the scene before the arrival of law enforcement.
York police are collaborating with Peel and Toronto police as similar incidents occurred in their respective jurisdictions this week. All three incidents happened within a span of less than three hours on the same evening, leading investigators to explore potential connections.
Peel police confirmed a related incident in Brampton, where officers responded to reports of a substance sprayed in a theatre. The building was evacuated, and no serious injuries were reported. Meanwhile, Toronto police received a call about a "stink bomb" set off in a Scarborough Town Centre theatre on the same night, prompting a swift evacuation with no reported injuries.
While the investigation is still in its early stages, authorities are not ruling out the possibility of a hate-motivated crime. Sgt. Clint Whitney of the Toronto Police mentioned that although there is no apparent indication of a hate crime, the Hate Crime Prevention Unit has been notified and will be involved in the investigation as a precaution.
Cineplex, the major cinema chain affected by these incidents, released a statement expressing its commitment to the safety of guests and cooperation with local authorities. Michelle Saba, a Cineplex spokesperson, stated that the company is working closely with investigators to address the situation. As of now, no arrests have been made in connection to these disturbing events.