A 23-year-old man who died following an exchange of gunfire with police inside an Innisfil, Ont. home has been identified. Chris Doncaster was pronounced dead on scene following a shooting inside a home near 25th Sideroad and 9th Line on Tuesday night.
The shooting claimed the lives of two South Simcoe police officers. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has not formally identified the gunman, only saying that he was a 23-year-old man that lived at the home.
But on Wednesday several family friends and an ex-girlfriend who spoke with CTV News Toronto confirmed the identity of the 23-year-old resident as Chris Doncaster.
Neighbours said Doncaster was the grandson of an elderly couple who resided in the home.
“He was definitely a troubled kid. That is all I would feel comfortable saying,” one neighbour told CTV News Toronto.
“You don’t know the details of what goes not behind closed doors but it is very upsetting. I am upset to think about how those grandparents are now feeling about their grandson and everything that transpired in that house.”
South Simcoe Police Service Chief John Van Dyke identified the slain officers as Const. Devon Northrup, 33, and Const. Morgan Russell, 54, during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Police have also released images of both officers.
Northrup had six years of service with South Simcoe Police, while Russell was a 33-year veteran of the service.
“This is a heartbreaking time for our police service, the families impacted, our emergency services personnel and our communities. Our immediate focus is to support our members and their grieving families,” Van Dyke said.
Northrup was assigned to the Community Mobilization and Engagement Unit, and was a member of the service’s Mental health Crisis Outreach and Support Team and the Emergency Response Unit.
He is survived by his partner, parents and many close friends, Van Dyke said. Russell was assigned to uniform patrol and was a trained crisis negotiator. He is survived by his wife and two teenage children.
“This is personal for me. I went to police college with Morgan 33 years ago,” Van Dyke added.Van Dyke said the service has requested York Regional Police to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.
“We must acknowledge that the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked its mandate. I am therefore very limited in what information we can share,” he said.
“We ask for your patience and privacy as we attempt to come to terms with the loss of these two beloved members of our family,” he added.
Authorities previously said that the two officers responded to a disturbance call at a home in the area of 25th Sideroad and 9th Line, shortly before 8 p.m. The SIU said family members inside the home made the call to police.
Upon arrival, the SIU said there was an exchange of gunfire between a 23-year-old male resident of the home and the two officers.The man was pronounced dead at the scene, the SIU said.The circumstances surrounding his death have not been confirmed.
Police said both of the wounded officers were rushed to a local hospital by emergency run and Const. Northrup died of his injuries.
Const. Russell was airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre in critical condition and succumbed to his injuries Wednesday morning, according to police.
The SIU has assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to the case. The province’s police watchdog investigates the conduct of officials that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person.
The SIU said it has not received consent from the man’s family to release his identity. “According to the SIU’s policy in death cases, consent has to be provided by the family and in this circumstance the man’s family has not consented to the release of his name.
The man’s autopsy is scheduled for Friday. Till that time, the investigation is ongoing,” SIU Spokesperson Kristy Denette told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
Denette added that the man’s firearm was collected at the scene. She could not confirm what type of firearm it was. She also told reporters that the SIU has not designated any officers as subject officers at this point.
A vigil was held Wednesday evening at Innisfil Community Church, where hundreds gathered to show support and pay tribute to the slain officers. A neighbour told CP24 that a young man lived with his grandparents in the home where the shooting occurred.
Another neighbour, John Ridge, has lived on the street where the shooting occurred for the past 26 years. He said it’s a quiet neighbourhood and was shocked to hear about the fatal shooting. “It’s unsettling and disheartening to have a cop shot right on your street but that’s what this world has come to,” Ridge said.
Early Wednesday morning, numerous police cruisers participated in a procession for the first fallen officer to the coroner’s office, near Highway 401 and Keele Street, in Toronto.
At around 8:30 a.m., police participated in another procession for the second fallen officer. They drove from Toronto’s St. Mike’s Hospital along the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 401 to the coroner’s office.
Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday he was “heartbroken” to learn about the death of the two officers. “I want to send our condolences and our prayers and thoughts out to the family and friends and to all the police officers out there, such a close knit community,” he told CTV News Toronto.
“You just don’t see this up in Simcoe, very seldom you ever see something like this but it just goes to show you that it can happen anywhere here in the province or in the country but I know further details will come out once the investigation finishes there,” he added.
Ford said he’ll be visiting the police detachment in Innisfil Wednesday afternoon.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his condolences to South Simcoe Police and the fallen officers’ loved ones.
The shooting comes a month after Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hong and two others were fatally shot by a gunman who went on a shooting spree in the GTA on Sept. 12.