Criminal lawyer shot outside office released from hospital

Criminal defence lawyer Randall Barrs, shot Tuesday near his Toronto office in the Annex district, has been released from hospital.

Anthony Moustacalis of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association says Barrs suffered a “few bullet wounds to his leg” but was expected to be released from hospital Wednesday afternoon.

“I was pleased to hear he is basically fine, has been released and doesn’t require any further treatment,” says Moustacalis.

The 66-year old lawyer was shot by a gunman in the driveway of his office on Bedford Road. Moments later, the shooter was shot by a plainclothes Halton Region police officer who was on surveillance in the same area.

Grayson Delong, the man alleged to have shot Barrs, now faces charges including attempted murder and disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence as well as weapons charges. According to the Toronto Star, it is not known if Delong is known to Barrs.

The Special Investigations Unit is investigating the shooting involving Halton police. Toronto police are in charge of the investigation into the shooting of Barrs.

Barrs’ criminal law practice is said to include those with drug and weapons offences, impaired driving charges and matters at the License Appeal Tribunal around Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario discipline matters.

Moustacalis says it’s rare for lawyers in Canada to fall victim to such incidents. A husband and wife who were lawyers were murdered in Hamilton about 20 years ago in their home. In 1978, family lawyer Frederick Gans was shot and killed by a former client’s husband.

“It’s usually family lawyers who receive threats,” says Moustacalis. “Those situations lead to a lot of tension and they tend to blame the lawyers more.”

David Hyde, a security consultant in Toronto who has done assessments for large law firms, has researched violence against several professions including lawyers. He has also done surveys with law firm employees ranging from lawyers to paralegals and receptionists.

“Research indicates violence and threats to lawyers is under-reported and, predominantly, people don’t know what they should do to better secure themselves. Only in about one in four cases after a violent incident occurred would the lawyer actually make a change to their security,” Hyde says.

Hyde has also found that about 50 per cent of lawyers he has interviewed have dealt with verbal or written threats, harassment and/or violence by another party, and about 45 to 50 per cent of those incidents have happened in their law office.

“When I ask what had been reported, very often it hadn’t even been reported to the firm,” says Hyde. “I did some interviews and anonymous surveys that showed a high percentage of those who received threats or harassment hadn’t informed the firm let alone the police and, in some cases, the threats clearly crossed the line to criminal behaviour.”

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