‘It certainly caught everyone off guard’: Distress in Ontario community after shooting death of one-year-old baby

On Friday, the SIU said the father remains in hospital, as does the injured OPP officer. It has not been confirmed who fired the fatal shot that killed the child

There are still few details beyond the barest of facts about the tragedy that unfolded on Thursday in a small Ontario community northeast of Toronto: A police chase that began after a child abduction report ended along a fog-shrouded 37-kilometre stretch of secondary highway that runs between Bobycageon and Lindsay. Shots were fired in a confrontation between the police and the suspect, and a one-year-old baby in the backseat was dead from a gunshot wound, the father hospitalized with grave injuries and a police officer also injured.

The Special Investigations Unit, which investigates instances when police officers in Ontario kill, seriously injure or sexually assault someone, has been called in to investigate what happened.

Multiple residents reached in the vicinity of the incident said they saw or heard police vehicles go by, but little else, assuming, in some cases, there had been a car crash due to the extremely heavy fog, and police were responding.

Andy Letham, the mayor of Kawartha Lakes, told the National Post the community was shocked. With everyone already on edge because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday’s tragic event added an extra layer of distress to his rural community.

“In a small community like this, it certainly caught everybody off guard.”

The tragedy began with a child-abduction call at roughly 8:45 a.m. Thursday, in the Municipality of Trent Lakes, a county north of Peterborough with a long history in the lumber industry and a population of some 5,000 people.

The SIU says a Toyota Tundra pickup truck was seen in the Municipality of Kawartha Lakes, due west of Trent Lakes, shortly afterward.

A police chase followed and an attempt to stop the truck. Along Pigeon Lake Road, the truck crashed into an Ontario Provincial Police cruiser and a vehicle belonging to a civilian, the SIU said in a news release. The crash injured an officer who was standing outside the police vehicle.

The SIU then says an “interaction ensued,” and three police officers opened fire at the father. The father, a 33-year-old, was “struck and airlifted to the hospital in grave condition.”

People protest outside the SIU headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. following an incident in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., on Thursday, November 26, 2020. Photo by Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

The child was in the backseat, the SIU reports. “Inside the vehicle was the man’s son, a one-year-old boy, and he was fatally wounded,” OPP spokeswoman Monica Hudon told reporters.

The scene, in photos and footage, shows leafless trees and scrubby fields on either side of the two-lane highway. A nearby resident told the Post parts of the road remained closed.

On Friday, in an update, the SIU said the father remains in hospital, as does the injured OPP officer.

It has not been confirmed who fired the fatal shot that killed the child.

The SIU said three police firearms had been seized and were to be sent for forensic examination. A fourth weapon, a handgun, was found inside the pickup truck, and investigators were waiting to take possession of it.

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