Ontario’s police watchdog revealed new details Thursday of a shooting at a home north of Toronto that left two officers and a young man dead.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says Simcoe South officers died in hospital and the 22-year-old man died at home after an exchange of gunfire Tuesday night in Innisfil, Ont. .

In an email Thursday, SIU spokesperson Kristy Denette told CBC News that “based on preliminary information” the two officers who were killed had not drawn their weapons when they were slaughtered.

“A third officer who was also at the house exchanged fire with the man,” Denette said, adding that the suspect was armed with an SKS semi-automatic rifle. The SIU previously listed the man’s age as 23, but later corrected that to say he was 22.

A spokesperson for the watchdog said police were called to the home by family members at the residence and an autopsy of the man was scheduled for Friday.

The South Simcoe Police Service identified the slain officers as Const. Devon Northrup – who has worked with outreach and mental health teams – and Const. Morgan Russell, a skilled crisis negotiator.

A vigil was held Wednesday evening at the Innisfil Community Church to honor the lives of the officers.

Links with the armed forces

Residents who live in the area expressed shock at what happened and said an elderly couple who had an adult grandson lived in the home where the shooting took place.

The SIU said it would not release the suspect’s identity at this time without permission from his family.

However, CBC Toronto has learned that Christopher Joseph Doncaster, whose 23rd birthday falls on October 23, lives with his grandparents, Donna Rose Doncaster, 76, and Glen Doncaster, 83, who own the home where the shooting took place. .

Neighbor Tom Wilson said he spoke outside with Glenn Doncaster around 5 p.m. the night of the shooting.

He said he was about to leave when Doncaster said: ‘Oh there’s Chris’ as his grandson pulled up in his lorry.

Wilson said he was friendly with his neighbors across the street and never saw any indication of trouble or violence.

He said he had not spoken with any of his neighbors since the incident.

“It must be tough,” Wilson said.

In an email to CBC News, a Department of National Defense spokesperson said someone named Christopher Doncaster was a member of the Canadian Forces from May to December 2020.

The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed to CBC Toronto that someone named Christopher Joseph Doncaster was a member from May to December 2020. He was a soldier with no deployment history. (Donna Doncaster/Facebook)

The spokesman said Doncaster was a soldier with no deployment history who had not completed basic training.

Additionally, CBC Toronto reviewed financial records which show Doncaster owed approximately $46,000 on a 2020 GMC Sierra 1500. A silver truck of the same make and model was towed by police from the scene of the shooting on Wednesday afternoon.

These records also list him as living at the house where the shooting took place.

Tough days for law enforcement

South Simcoe Staff Sgt. David Phillips told reporters on Thursday that the small police force of 102 uniformed officers was feeling the brunt of the killings.

“It’s been incredibly difficult the past few days. We’re getting through this with the support of our community,” he said.

“It’s like any small workplace, you know everyone.”

Plans are currently underway for police funerals for Northrup and Russell, Phillips said, adding that the service is also setting up a condolence book on its website.

Mark Baxter, president of the Police Association of Ontario, said the officers’ deaths sent shock waves through the police community.

“It’s a huge loss for our entire police family,” Baxter told CBC Radio. Subway morning Thursday.

“We may never understand or know the ‘why’…but hopefully investigators can get more information and additional information that may be able to give the families and co-workers of the officers some perspective. closing.”

Baxter said he felt a sense of disbelief that it was happening again in the province. Northrup and Russell are the third and fourth police officers to be killed in Ontario in the past month.

On September 12, Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hong was killed in what police called an “ambush” in a series of shootings that left two dead and three injured.

On September 14, York Regional Police Const. Travis Gillespie died at the scene of a frontal car accident.

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