Three Greater Toronto theatres evacuated after unidentified substance scare - New Canadian Media
Screen shot from the Hindi-language Bollywood film Animal, showing in Greater Toronto.

Three Greater Toronto theatres evacuated after unidentified substance scare

Emergency services responded to simultaneous incidents at multiplexes during Hindi movie screenings.

Three multiplex cinemas in the Greater Toronto Area were evacuated Dec. 5 after a noxious substance was sprayed inside during film showings.

At approximately 7:41 p.m., Peel Regional Police arrived at a theatre in Brampton after calls about the spraying of an unidentified substance. 

Police said Dec. 6 that no one has been arrested and the incident has been handed over to the 21 Division Criminal In Investigation Bureau.

Media reports identified the location as SilverCity Brampton Cinemas. Social media reports also indicated that the Cineplex Cinemas Scarborough and a Cineplex in Vaughan were affected. 

In recent years, there have been reported disturbances at theatres showcasing South Indian films, but the Dec. 5 incidents were all during Hindi movie screenings.

Michelle Saba, vice president of communications at Cineplex, said in an emailed response:“We are working closely with local authorities who are leading the investigation and can’t share more details at this time. 

“Our primary focus and commitment is the safety and well-being of our guests and our team. We thank our teams for helping guests evacuate safely.”

York Regional Police said  a similar incident occurred  at a cinema complex near Highway 7 and Highway 400.Moviegoers experienced coughing fits from an unknown substance released by two individuals. The cinema was evacuated, and several people received treatment for substance exposure, but  no severe injuries were reported, according to a press release from the York Regional Police.

Peel Regional Police Const. Tyler Bell-Morena said police are aware of the incidents at several theatres, but don’t know yet if they are related.

“This is only from yesterday. The investigation is going to be focused on trying to determine if there’s a link between the other occurrences as well.”

York Regional Police confirmed that an Indian Hindi-language film was screening at the time of one incident, and an estimated 200 people were in the theatre.

Peel Regional Police declined to specify the films showing during the other incidents,. But all locations have significant South Asian demographics and were screening three Hindi films:’Animal’, ‘Sam Bahadhur’, and ‘Tiger 3’—as well as  a number  of English titles.

“Officers received a call at 10:27 pm to Scarborough Town Centre at the theatres for a possible “stink bomb” released in a theatre. The substance has not been confirmed. 

“The theatre was evacuated – no reported injuries. At this time the investigation is ongoing, and further information will be provided by way of a media release,” said Ashley Visser, media relations officer at Toronto Police Service in an emailed response.

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Shilpashree Jagannathan is a journalist from India. She now lives in Toronto and has worked as a business reporter for leading newspapers in India. She has tracked telecom, infrastructure, and real estate news developments and has produced podcast series. She currently focuses on human rights, feminist movements, and other related issues in Canada and India. Her weekends are spent bird watching in one of the Toronto birding hotspots; she loves trails, biking, and a lot of sun.

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