In the heart of Toronto and in a popular tourism center of the city, a gunman opened fire on Saturday in a busy food court at one of Canada's best known shopping malls, Toronto's Eaton's Centre, killing a 25-year-old man and leaving seven others injured, police said.
"The nature of the wounds indicate this individual was targeted," said Toronto police chief Bill Blair. "The others were innocent bystanders."
The police chief urged all witnesses to come forward and assist with the investigation. He declined to comment on the possible motives of the crime.
"This was outrageous," Blair stressed. "A lot of innocent people were hurt and a lot of innocent people were put at risk."
Hundreds of people were in the area at the time of the incident around 6:30 pm local time (2230 GMT).
The area around the mall, Toronto's largest, was cordoned off by police shortly after the shooting.
Police have a description of the suspect from eyewitnesses, Blair said, adding that the manhunt for the killer was on.
The wounded, some of whom were in serious condition, were being treated at local hospitals. They included a 13-year-old boy. Also hurt was a pregnant woman, who escaped the bullets but was knocked down in the ensuing stampede.
In a statement, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty expressed his condolences to the families and friends of everyone who had suffered as a result of the shooting at the Eaton Centre.
"I also want to thank all the first responders who arrived on the scene and tended to the injured -- and the police who are working hard to bring the shooter to justice," the premier said.
"I know I speak for all Ontarians when I say that while we are saddened and shocked by today's events, we will respond as we always have -- with strength, determination and a desire to work together, and work even harder, to build communities that are safe, secure and free of gun violence."
According to The Toronto Globe and Mail, the scene of the crime was also visited by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
"This incident tonight is absolutely terrible, and I'm here to offer my support to the police," Ford was quoted by the paper as saying.