Jun. 24, 2004. 06:07 AM
SIMON HAYTER/TORONTO STAR
Constable Fraser Douglas was the policeman the man eventually flagged down as he decided to confess his frightening plans.
 
Shooting spree averted, police say
Man's car packed with 6,000 rounds
Wandering dog plays crucial role

 

CHRISTIAN COTRONEO
STAFF REPORTER

A man drove from the Maritimes with a carload of guns and ammunition, vowing to kill as many people in Toronto as he could before a last-minute encounter with a wandering dog inspired a change of heart.

 

The New Brunswick man, in his 40s, surrendered to police yesterday afternoon in front of a supermarket at Leslie and Eastern Sts. He had a loaded gun in his pocket and a car crammed with more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

 

"At that time, he decided he was going to shoot people in the area," said Detective Nick Ashley of 55 Division. "He attended a local park nearby and was preparing the weapons to do that."

 

By chance, a dog approached the man and started playing with him in the Victoria Park Ave. and Queen St. E. park.

 

"He happens to be a pet lover and decided that if there was such a nice dog in the area the people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Ashley said.

 

His car, a red Subaru caked with mud, provided the testament. It was packed with doggie blankets, a big plastic dog dish still filled with dry kibble and the biggest single arsenal Ashley had seen in his 17 years with the service.

 

The car "was absolutely stuffed," he said.

 

The man didn't have a dog in the car. Police said he had left his dog in New Brunswick.

 

After visiting the park, the man, who police describe as mentally ill, drove around the city looking for a police officer. He found a young constable who has only been on the force for three years.

 

Constable Fraser Douglas, 25, was responding to a shoplifting call in front of a Leslie St. supermarket on a sunny afternoon when a man drove up behind his cruiser and honked the horn.

 

"He told me he was crazy and he needed to go to the hospital," the officer recalled.

 

And, Douglas added, he had a loaded gun in his pocket. "He said, `I'm just going to drive around and kill people at random.'"

 

Officers were tallying their cache last night at their Coxwell St. headquarters, counting carton after carton of bullets.

 

The list included: a 12-gauge shotgun, a bolt action rifle with a telescopic lens, a 9-mm semiautomatic, a machete, throwing knife, camouflage ski mask, black leather gloves, and 6,296 rounds of ammunition.

 

"He felt that if he shot enough people he would stay in custody permanently," Ashley said. "This could have been a very dangerous situation had his plan unfolded."

 

"It's scary how close it could have been. We have a dog to thank somewhere."

 

Investigators estimated the man would face at least six to eight "very serious" weapons charges. Because the guns were all legally registered to the suspect, the charges stem from transporting and storage.

Additional articles by Christian Cotroneo

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