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Toronto police officer involved in Distillery District shooting also in Canadian Forces

Police on the scene of pursuit in the Distillery District. Ryan Belgrave/CITYNEWS

A Toronto police officer involved in a shooting in the Distillery District last summer is also a military reservist.

Cpl. Tash Baiati is a Class A reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence said on Wednesday. The story first appeared on the CBC on Tuesday.

Baiati is also a constable with Toronto police, and was working on Sept. 16, 2015. That’s when police boxed in a reportedly stolen vehicle in the crowded Distillery District around 1 p.m.

Witnesses say the situation escalated quickly.

“I saw two cop cars hit that [stolen] car and then about six cops got out and tried to get the man out of the car,” said Bryan Martin. “He wouldn’t get out, the car was kind of pinned. He then revved the gas, and as soon as he did that … that’s when the cops opened fire.”

Police on the scene of pursuit in the Distillery District. Ryan Belgrave/CITYNEWS
Police on the scene of pursuit in the Distillery District on Sept. 16, 2015. CITYNEWS/Ryan Belgrave.

 

The suspect vehicle was reported stolen near Bond and Shuter streets, and the two police cruisers closed in on it near Parliament and Mill streets.

The bullets flew just steps away from scores of people enjoying lunch, and not far from a nearby private school and park.

“All I heard was like ‘boom, boom, boom.’ We were just terrified. We didn’t know what to do,” said Shannon Ferguson. “All of a sudden kids and people were just running through the park, falling over each other running away and kids crying.”

One person was arrested. Edward Michael Skotnicki, 60, is facing numerous charges including theft, possession of property obtained by crime, flight while pursued by peace officer and dangerous driving.