Three Toronto-area theatres evacuated after unidentified substance sprayed inside | World News - Hindustan Times
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Three Toronto-area theatres evacuated after unidentified substance sprayed inside

Dec 07, 2023 11:31 AM IST

Hundreds of moviegoers attending screenings of Hindi films at three different cinema locations in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA had to be evacuated following an unidentified substance being sprayed within the theatres.

Hundreds of moviegoers attending screenings of Hindi films at three different cinema locations in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA had to be evacuated following an unidentified substance being sprayed within the theatres.

Security image of two male suspects who sprayed a noxious substance in a cinema in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA on Tuesday evening and disrupted the screening of a Hindi film. (York Regional Police)
Security image of two male suspects who sprayed a noxious substance in a cinema in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA on Tuesday evening and disrupted the screening of a Hindi film. (York Regional Police)

These incidents occurred on Tuesday night at multiplexes in Toronto, Vaughan and Brampton in the GTA. Whether it was the same film being screened or different Hindi films was not revealed by law enforcement.

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“Police are investigating after hundreds of moviegoers were evacuated from three separate theatres in the GTA on Tuesday night following reports of substances being leaked into the buildings,” a release from York Regional Police or YRP on Wednesday said.

Peel Regional Police or PRP were called to a cinema in Brampton at 7.40 pm on Tuesday evening after “reports that a substance was sprayed inside.”

“The building was evacuated but no arrests were made. Investigators are reviewing video surveillance to determine what exactly happened,” the release said.

YRP officers attended a call at a theatre in Vaughan at 9.30 pm on Tuesday. The YRP statement confirmed that around 200 moviegoers needed to be “evacuated from the building” and investigators believe the incident was an “intentional act” and a criminal investigation is ongoing.

“Investigators learned that two male suspects wearing masks and hoods had attended the cinema, entered the theatre after the movie began and then walked around and sprayed an unknown, aerosol-based, irritating substance into the air. The suspects fled before police arrival,” the release added.

Police said several movie-goers started coughing and were treated on scene by paramedics. This was also stated by users on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. One user with the handle Chilli Paneer posted, “I was just there and while we left me and everyone else was coughing our lungs out and they didn’t even sound an alarm or tell us to leave??? They were like cover your mouth and we were just like??? Ohmigod.” Another user Asmaruns posted that she was there with her family and “as soon as we exited the theatre everyone was coughing nonstop” and that “there was no smell.” She described it as “an awful experience.”

Investigators are looking for two male suspects, wearing masks and hoods, who “entered the theatre after the movie began and then walked around and sprayed an unknown, aerosol-based, irritating substance into the air. The suspects fled before police arrival.”

YRP said investigators were “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 release stated.

These locations were screenings new releases including Sam Bahadur, the biopic on the life of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who was Chief of Army Staff when India faced off against Pakistan and the nation of Bangladesh was created from what was then East Pakistan. Also screening were the spy thriller starring Salman Khan, Tiger 3, and the action film Animal with Ranbir Kapoor.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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