A one-year-old child was killed last week, and his father was gravely injured, after police opened fire on the vehicle they were traveling in. The 33-year-old father, who has not been identified, allegedly kidnapped the child during a custody dispute with the mother.
Police will not say whether it was an officer’s bullet that killed the baby or injured his father.
“It’s too early for us to know why officers fired at the vehicle, and it’s too early for us to know exactly what transpired,” Monica Hudon, a spokeswoman for the province’s police watchdog, told reporters.
A chase began after police were tipped off about a domestic dispute involving an abduction and a firearm in the community of Kawartha Lakes in Ontario.
Witnesses to the alleged abduction say they saw police vehicles chasing a pickup truck after it sped away from a home.
“We heard the first vehicle hit the side of the road, so you could tell it was going really fast,” witness Michelle Barry said to Global News. “Almost like a car chase. Then we heard the sirens.”
Neighbor Tom Deciccio said, ‘Some people came to the house and wanted in, for a safe haven and there was something about the husband had left with the little baby.’
When police tried to pull the man over, his truck rammed the police car and another vehicle. An officer who was standing near the police car was struck by the truck and injured.
That’s when three officers on the scene fired their guns at the vehicle. Some reports have indicated that there was an exchange of gunfire between the father and the police.
“Inside the pickup truck was a one-year-old boy. He had sustained a gunshot wound and was pronounced deceased at the scene,” the SIU said in a statement.
The father was taken to the hospital in “in grave condition” and the officer that was hit by the truck is still recovering in the hospital.
The head of the Ontario provincial police tweeted his condolences to the family and urged the public to avoid “speculation on the events as they unfolded”.
Seven investigators, including two forensic investigators and one collision expert, have been assigned to the case, the SIU said.
The SIU said three police firearms had been seized and were to be sent for forensic examination. A fourth weapon, a handgun, was found inside the pickup truck, and investigators were waiting to take possession of it, according to the National Post.
Police have revealed no other details about their investigation.
Andy Letham, the mayor of Kawartha Lakes, told the National Post the community was shocked.
“In a small community like this, it certainly caught everybody off guard,” he said.
Protesters were seen outside the SIU headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario after the shooting.
One held a sign reading, ‘End impunity for police brutality.’
Another held a sign saying ‘Justice 4 Jamal,’ in response to the police-involved shooting of Jamal Francique, who was killed in January.