sandz toronto shooting

Caribbean festival outside Woodbine Mall in Toronto marred by violence

What started as a day of dancing in the sun devolved into chaos outside Toronto's Woodbine Shopping Centre on Sunday evening when shots were fired at the Sandz Toronto Caribbean Music Festival.

Police, who were already on scene to provide security at the massive event in Rexdale, announced shortly after 7 p.m. that a fight had erupted and that someone had "been struck by an object."

"Multiple sounds of gunshots in parking lot," wrote the Toronto Police Service in a public update at 7:17 p.m. "Reports of someone shot."

Upon further investigation, police determined that nobody had been shot, though they did find evidence of gunfire at the scene.

One man was nonetheless seriously injured as a result of the brawl and sent to hospital. Several others were assessed for minor injuries on site, according to TPS Const. David Hopkinson.

Police have yet to reveal any information about potential suspects or motives, but at least one disappointed attendee wrote on Instagram that "a lot of people saw this coming."

A graphic video from the Woodbine Mall parking lot shows one man lying motionless on the ground with a pool of blood spreading from his head. 

People can be seen gathering around the man as an MC calls medical personnel to the stage and urges attendees to exit the venue.

Another video posted to Instagram shows swarms of people rushing to leave the festival following the violent altercation as a woman yells "why? why?" and "relax!"

Other people captured the sheer panic that broke out among thousands of revelers after shots rang out.

In one video, attendees can be seen trying to get past a fenced-off area. Some people manage to climb over the fence while others work to tear it down. 

Yet another clip shows people scrambling to gather their belongings as they flee the area.

"It's unfortunate that a party like this has to end this way with such a violent incident," wrote one person in the caption of a video showing the party's aftermath. "Fortunately I had the privilege to attend both parties locally and internationally and it is indeed one of the greatest events."

"I went to this party #SandzToronto with the intention of having fun but also with the intention of something going down," he continued.

"And yes I wasn't surprised something eventually happened. Protect your brand, protect your image, do your research!"

The event's organizers have yet to publicly comment on the violence, though they did announce on Thursday that the venue was being switched last minute from Vaughan to Woodbine Mall's parking lot due to "a freak accident."

"We urge everyone to carpool," wrote Sandz Carribean Music Festival on Facebook late last week. "Come out early, secure your party space, drink responsibly and prepare for high energy filled day."

Lead photo by

Mitchell Hanief

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