UPDATE: Pickering Casino & Hotel shut down for murder investigation

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Published October 10, 2023 at 12:01 am

Pickering Casino murder

Pickering Casino and Hotel remains closed while police investigate Durham Region’s eleventh murder of the year, with hotel guests being asked to evacuate about four hours after the 5 a.m. shooting that left a casino security guard dead.

Christie McLardie, an Oshawa resident and the Town of Ajax’s Public & Strategic Affairs manager, was a guest in the hotel that night and said she had no idea what was going on downstairs until she got up in the morning.

“We only figured out something ‘had’ happened when we got up around 8:30. We noticed lots of police activity out the window,” McLardie said. “We were asked to leave around 9:30ish.”

McLardie described the feeling leaving the casino as “eerie” but had no issues with the way the situation was handled by Durham Regional Police.

“I assume leaving guests to the end was strategic in order to secure the scene first. We were safe in our rooms.”

Durham Regional Police responded to report of multiple shots fired call at the casino off Church Street, between Kingston Road and Highway 401, just after 5 a.m. Monday morning.

When police arrived they found Michael Ferdinand, 34, who was on duty that night, suffering from gunshot wounds. He was transported to a Toronto trauma centre where he was pronounced dead.

Reports are circulating on social media that a group was denied entry and brought gunfire with them when they returned to the casino.

DRPS Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss confirmed Monday police are searching for a group of men and women who arrived at the casino armed and fled immediately after the shooting. “It’s obviously safe to say somebody was armed going into the Casino,” she told reporters.

Bortoluss said the shooting, which happened inside the casino, does not appear to be targeted but the homicide unit is still reviewing surveillance video and interviewing witnesses and are urging anyone with information to come forward.

“Senseless,” was how McLardie, a frequent visitor to the facility, described the shooting. “Condolences to the family. Hopefully the suspects turn themselves in.”

“(This) hits close to home.”

Pickering Casino Resort operators Great Canadian Entertainment said the casino and hotel is “temporarily” closed. “We’ll notify you when the property reopens.”

 

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