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"BM" 1900-1909 Education Election Employment Athletics


BMW e@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-02-10 published
   category e is education election employment athletics
Stolen gun tied to December 26 shooting
Weapon taken from collector
Gun entered Canada legally
By John DUNCANSON, Dale BRAZAO and Nick PRON, Staff Reporters
A 9mm handgun stolen from a southern Ontario gun collector was involved in the Boxing Day shooting that left 15-year-old Jane CREBA dead and six others injured, the Toronto Star has learned.
Less than 40 minutes after gunmen opened fire on a crowd of shoppers on Yonge St. on December 26, police seized a Ruger P85 Mark II from two suspects who were arrested at the Castle Frank subway station.
The semi-automatic Ruger, bearing the serial number 30324243, had its innocuous beginning at the Sturm Ruger plant in Prescott, Arizona., in September 1991. After being stamped out and assembled at the factory, it was sent directly to a licensed gun dealer in Ontario in the fall of that year.
Police haven't said if the gun was the one that actually ended CREBA's life but acknowledge the Ruger is key to their case.
According to American authorities, the 9mm Ruger -- a gun very popular with collectors and shooters -- took a legal path into Canada. There is no record of it being used in any crimes in the United States, said an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The 9mm Ruger, which is used by some police forces and the military, most likely was imported by one of two firms that specialized in selling that type of weapon in Ontario back in the 1990s. The gun collector would have had all the proper paperwork to buy the gun, considered a rugged and reliable weapon within the gun industry.
Earlier this week, Mayor David Miller said recent gun seizures have proven there is a "direct link" between break-ins at the homes of collectors across Ontario and guns on Toronto streets.
"If somebody steals a canoe, it's a private problem," Miller said. "If somebody steals a gun, it's a public problem."
While both Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty have called for a total ban on handguns, Attorney General Michael Bryant wants more provincial powers to control the weapons.
The Boxing Day shooting outside the Foot Locker on Yonge St. was sparked by what Police Chief Bill Blair said was an apparent "act of disrespect" when someone had their hat knocked off at the Eaton Centre -- not far from where the bullets started to fly at 5: 19 p.m.
Police say between 10 and 15 people were involved in the confrontation, all of them in their late teens or early 20s. Bullets and shell casings littered Yonge St. where the shootings took place. Police marked at least 65 sites with yellow evidence cards.
witnesses: told police they saw one person pull out a gun and start shooting into the crowd, and then others returned fire before two men sped off in a BMW.
Forty minutes after the shootings, Andre THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON, 20, and a 17-year-old male who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act were arrested outside the Castle Frank station.
Officers seized the Ruger and 10 rounds of ammunition but no other guns.
THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON and the 17-year-old face several gun-related charges. THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON is charged with pointing and discharging a firearm at a "large group of unknown persons."
The revelation that the gun seized in the CREBA investigation also came from a break-in at a collector's home gives credence to the police claim that half the guns used in the commission of crimes in Canada have been stolen. The other half, police say, are smuggled in from the U.S.
Last year saw a record 52 people die as a result of gunfire, while the number of homicides climbed to 78 from an average of about 60 in previous years.
Since the Boxing Day shooting, police have released little about the case and have kept details of the gun seized under wraps.
"The investigators are very optimistic of progress," Staff Supt. Rick GAUTHIER said yesterday. "These are slow, methodical cases."
Miller said despite the changing of the guard in Ottawa -- former prime minister Paul Martin was committed to banning all handguns -- he's hopeful that Parliament will finally do something to stop the flow of weapons.
"Just because the Conservatives don't support it (a handgun ban) doesn't mean that Parliament wouldn't," Miller said. "The Bloc, the New Democrats and the Liberals together, which are the majority, would support a handgun ban."
Just this week, two men were arrested at gunpoint in downtown Toronto and charged with possession of two handguns stolen from a gun collector in Oshawa last week. Ken FOSTER, 67, lost his entire collection of handguns when thieves broke into his home while he was in hospital recovering from his fourth stroke and made off with his prized firearms, which included 10 Lugers.
Robert MASSEY of Orangeville and Brent MATHESON of Toronto, both 33, face several gun charges, including illegal possession of firearms for the purpose of trafficking and "unauthorized presence" of a firearm in a motor vehicle.
On December 8, gun collector Lionel WEESE returned to his Consecon, Ontario, home to find 23 handguns, including five.45-calibre pistols, missing. The thieves did not touch any of the roughly 30 long guns WEESE had in his home.
Late last year, thieves broke into the Parliament St. offices of lawyer Arthur BROWN and made off with the 17 handguns he was storing in a gun safe. Only one of those guns has been recovered.
Gun collector and firearms trainer Mike HARGREAVES also lost some 35 handguns and assault rifles when thieves broke into his Gilder Ave. apartment in December 2003, and spent two days cracking a 1,700-pound safe to steal the weapons.

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