Movie theatres screening Hindi films at three different locations in Canada had to be evacuated after an “unknown substance” was sprayed in the venues, causing hundreds of attendees to suffer from coughing fits. Police said on Wednesday that the incidents occurred on Tuesday night at multiplexes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), comprising Toronto, Vaughan and Brampton. “Investigators are aware that there were two similar incidents at other movie theatres that same evening, with one in Brampton and one in Toronto. Our investigators are liaising with our neighbouring police partners about those incidents,” the York Regional Police said.
In one of these incidents, which happened in Vaughan at around 9.20 p.m. on Tuesday, emergency services were pressed in and roughly 200 people from the theatre were evacuated after they began coughing. Investigators with the York Regional Police learned that two male suspects wearing masks and hoods entered the theatre after the movie, “an Indian Hindi-language film” began. They then walked around and sprayed an unknown, aerosol-based, irritating substance into the air, and fled before police arrived. Police said several patrons were treated for exposure to the unknown substance and no serious injuries were reported.
Releasing the description of the first suspect, police said he was a Black man with a light skin tone, standing around five feet, ten inches tall and with a medium build. He was wearing a black sweater, a black jacket with a white logo, dark pants with a white stripe and a black toque with a white logo on the front, alongside a black medical mask. Police said the second suspect is a brown man with a light skin tone, standing about five feet, eight inches tall and with a medium build. He wore a black sweater with a red logo above white text on the front, with dark pants, brown boots and a black mask.
According to the Peel Regional Police, officers were called to a movie theatre near Great Lakes Drive and Bovaird Drive in Brampton around 7:40 p.m. on the same day for reports that a substance was sprayed inside. While the building was evacuated and no arrests made, investigators are reviewing video surveillance to determine what exactly happened. According to Global News, a woman, who was watching an Indian movie inside this theatre, said she left the theatre feeling unwell after something was sprayed inside. She said she went outside and was coughing for “five to six minutes”. “I just hope everyone is safe,” she told the news outlet.
Toronto police also received a call around 10.30 p.m. about a possible “stink bomb” being released in a theatre at Scarborough Town Centre. Police said the theatre was evacuated and no injuries were reported. Investigators believe there were numerous witnesses present who may be able to assist with the probe as the GTA has many commercial and entertainment businesses and is well-travelled by pedestrians and vehicular traffic.