In an unsettling series of events earlier this week, masked men targeted cinemas screening Hindi movies in the Greater Toronto Area, triggering police investigations into the mysterious incidents. Three separate occurrences unfolded within a span of less than three hours, raising concerns about the safety of moviegoers and the potential motives behind the attacks.
The first incident occurred around 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday at a cinema complex in Vaughan, where several moviegoers were exposed to an unknown, aerosol-based, irritating substance. Witnesses reported that two men, donned in masks and hoods, entered a theater and sprayed the substance into the air, causing patrons to cough and experience discomfort. The theater had to be evacuated, and those affected received treatment, although no serious injuries were reported.
The suspects, identified as a Black man with a light skin tone and a brown man with a light skin tone, fled the scene before the arrival of law enforcement. York Regional Police released a statement indicating their collaboration with Peel and Toronto police to investigate similar incidents in the region. The proximity of these events both in time and location has led authorities to explore the possibility of a connection between the occurrences.
Peel police confirmed their response to a theater in Brampton on the same evening, where reports suggested the presence of a sprayed substance on the premises. The building was evacuated, and no serious injuries were recorded. Toronto police were also summoned to Scarborough Town Centre after reports of someone deploying a “stink bomb” in a theater, resulting in the evacuation of the venue. Again, no injuries were reported in this incident.
As the investigations unfold, law enforcement agencies have yet to make any arrests. While it remains unclear whether these incidents are connected, authorities are considering the possibility given the proximity and timing of the events. The motive behind the attacks remains a subject of speculation, and police are probing whether the incidents are hate-motivated crimes.
Sgt. Clint Whitney, addressing concerns about the nature of the crimes, stated that the investigation is in its early stages. While there is no apparent indication of a hate-motivated crime, the Hate Crime Prevention Unit has been notified as a precaution, and they will play a role in the ongoing investigation.
Cineplex, the prominent cinema chain affected by the incidents, expressed its commitment to the safety of its patrons and employees. Michelle Saba, a spokesperson for Cineplex, stated that the company is working closely with local authorities to investigate the unsettling events. As the community grapples with the aftermath of these incidents, questions about the motives behind the attacks linger, and residents are left hoping for swift resolutions to ensure the safety and well-being of all moviegoers in the Greater Toronto Area.