Toronto police say they are seeking eight men after a police cruiser was seriously damaged during celebrations downtown on Thursday night following the Raptors’ NBA championship win.
All of the men are believed to be in their 20s.
Police said they were called to York Street, north of Bremner Boulevard, for a report of mischief at about 11:55 p.m.
A large crowd of people had gathered on the street to celebrate the win by the Raptors over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., after a very close game. The Raptors had just won their first league title in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
A police car had been parked on York Street, believed to be in the underpass, and officers had left it to respond to the celebrations when the damage occurred, according to Const. David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police Service.
A group surrounded the car as the eight men damaged it.
“They jumped up on top of it, smashed the windows, kicked in the sides of the car, and all of this was posted on social media. They threw things at it. The roof had been caved in. I believe every single window had been broken. The back, the sides, the front, the hood, the trunk space,” Hopkinson said.
“We began an investigation. We have gathered some evidence and we’ve put out on our website pictures and descriptions of the eight men wanted. We would like the community’s help to try to find these people responsible.”
Hopkinson said security camera images of all eight have been released. He noted that the incident was captured on video by many people.
Damage to the police car is considered “extensive,” but Hopkinson did not release a dollar estimate.
Police are also investigating damage done to a second vehicle parked in the same area, but have not yet released images or descriptions of suspects or a description of the incident itself.
“We are in the process of gathering information on that one as well,” he said.
Majority of fans acted responsibly, police say
Hopkinson said despite the incidents, the majority of fans were well behaved on Thursday night. He could not say how many people were arrested that night.
“What these men are accused of is crossing the line in their behaviour into criminal,” he said. “For the most part, the majority of people who celebrated that night celebrated responsibly with everybody’s safety in mind.”
In a news release on Sunday, investigators urged all eight men to get lawyers and surrender to police.
Police said they are looking for:
- Suspect 1, with short black hair, a beard. He was wearing a red sweater with white writing.
- Suspect 2, with a beard. He was wearing a black hat and a red sweater.
- Suspect 3, wearing a black hat, light-coloured t-shirt and dark coloured pants.
- Suspect 4, wearing a black hat, red t-shirt and black backpack.
- Suspect 5, wearing a white sweater and dark pants.
- Suspect 6, with a beard. He was wearing a purple hat and red sweater.
- Suspect 7, with dark coloured hair, wearing a dark coloured sweater.
- Suspect 8, with a beard. He was wearing a light coloured hat, white sweater and a flag tied around his neck.
According to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, two buses were also damaged that night.
“There needs to be a deterrent,” Saunders said in a statement released on Friday. “When people cross the line and break the law, we will investigate and we will lay charges where appropriate.”
Saunders noted that five people, four with firearms, were arrested in connection with a shooting near Yonge and Dundas Square early Friday. That shooting left a man with serious to life-threatening injuries. The shooting occurred around 4:17 a.m. at the intersection of Yonge and Gould streets.
“We quickly made apprehensions and our investigation is underway. We have a lot of witnesses helping us, we have a lot of video and photographs from the area, and we will be laying charges,” Saunders said.
No update on the victim’s condition was available on Sunday.
Appeal for info about 8 men comes after similar incident
The police’s appeal for the public’s help comes after a similar incident that occurred after the Raptors clinched their spot in the NBA Finals in late May. Police have arrested at least two men in that incident on Saturday, May 25.
In all, seven men were wanted for allegedly jumping on a cruiser with an officer inside, as well as threatening the officer.
Police said the officer tried to arrest a suspect when the crowd got closer and one suspect threatened to kill him. Fearing for his safety, the officer let the suspect go and got back into his car. Previously, police had said that no arrests were made on the night of the game.