Like Const. Andrew Hong, Shakeel Ashraf merely just went to work
MILTON — You just never know where something evil such as this will happen.
Like the Tim Hortons 20 minutes to the east, this dwelling in a normally quiet small town is an unlikely homicide scene. At this small mechanics garage, they do brakes, transmissions, auto body work and oil changes. But it will now forever be known as the place where the owner was murdered and two others were shot as part of a blood-curdling day that also saw a Toronto Police officer slain while in line to buy lunch and a coffee.
As Halton Regional Police forensic experts combed MK Auto Repairs on Bronte St. near Main St. in downtown Milton, a group of taxi drivers stood at the yellow tape in both grief and discomfort.
The violent shooting spree is believed to have started at a Tim Hortons in Mississauga with the murder at close range of Const. Andrew Hong, later moving here with three people being shot and one dying at the scene.
At the back of this building is both the taxi drivers’ office and their personal cars, which they couldn’t get to. One of the drivers said his car is also actually his home. But they were in no rush. They were counseling each other. The focus of their discussion and grief was the owner of the shop, 38-year-old Shakeel Ashrafa man they said was well liked and trusted as an honest mechanic.
“He was a good man,” said one of his friends. “He had a wife and kids.”
Ashraf was well known not only at his garage but also in South Asian community circles and on the cricket pitch.
“It’s so unfair,” said one of his friends.
The motive of the suspect, who was later shot and killed by police in Hamilton, is not yet known. But there were clues offered by the friends of the victim. Sean Petrie, they say, was fired by Ashraf about four months ago.
“He only worked there for about a month,” one of the drivers said of Petry. “He didn’t work out well. There were problems and they let him go.”
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It’s unknown if he had animosity toward other staff there, but the friends say one of the wounded is the office manager they identified as Prince Shariz, who they said is also a kind and respected member of the community.
Halton police say the two wounded “remain in critical and serious conditions.”
It is such a complicated series of crime scenes that it will likely be days before evidence is collected at all of them and the full picture is sorted out. What we do know so far is there is the scene at the Tim Hortons at Argentia Rd. and Winston Churchill Blvd. in Mississauga, the garage in Milton, and a cemetery in Hamilton where an “armed” Petry was shot to death by responding Halton and Hamilton officers.
You have three police service investigations — Peel, Halton and Hamilton — as well as full cooperation from the Toronto Police Service, which lost Const. Andrew Hong, who was helping lead a motorcycle training session in Peel. The province’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating what occurred at the cemetery.
“I want to personally thank the many front-line men and women, and all first responders for doing everything they could do to ensure the safety of our residents,” Halton Chief Stephen Tanner said in a statement. “I also want to thank the many individuals and organizations who have inquired as to the well-being of our officers, and of the other officers involved in this tragedy. Your thoughts and support are sincerely appreciated.”
The taxi drivers commented on just how senseless the whole day was.
“These people had families,” said one of them. “It’s terrible.”
All of the dead and wounded in this horrific, violent crime spree had this in common: They all got up in the morning and went to work.
They didn’t get to go home.