Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

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Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

From Comcast SportsNet
TORONTO (AP) -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie said Sunday that he narrowly missed being in the area where a gunman fired shots in a crowded food court in one of Canada's busiest malls, killing a man and injuring seven others. Police said the shooting on Saturday at Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent bystanders in what they think might be a gang-related shooting. Police said seven people were shot in all, including a 24-year-old man who was killed in a hail of bullets and a 23-year-old man who remains in critical condition. Det. Sgt. Brian Borg said a 13-year-old boy who was visiting Toronto and shopping with family members was shot in the head but has been upgraded to stable, but critical condition. He said a 28-year-old pregnant woman who went into labor after being trampled in the rush to get out of the mall has not yet given birth. He said she is doing well. Borg said they believe the dead man, identified as Ahmed Hassan of Toronto, had gang affiliations and was targeted. He was known to police. Police think they know who the suspect is but Borg declined to provide a name at this point. Borg said security footage has been particularly helpful. He said there was one gunman and no exchange of gunfire. "I'm very confident we are going to make an arrest very soon," Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said. Police removed Hassan's body early Sunday morning. Lawrie was one of the first to break the news on Twitter on Saturday evening. He had gone to the mall with a friend shortly after the Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox in a Saturday afternoon game. "Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall ... Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... through traffic," Lawrie tweeted. "People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow." He later tweeted that he was "Rattled right now." On Sunday, Lawrie said he felt lucky because he left the food court 10 seconds before the shooting. "It was instant panic," Lawrie said before Sunday's game against the Red Sox. "It was as if you stepped on an ant hill and then everyone just flooded out of the place. ... I just got out of there as fast as possible. I was the first person out of there." Lawrie said he wanted to get the news out fast. "I just thought I'd give it out there just to anybody that could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there ASAP, I thought I could give them a good piece of information," he said. Lawrie, a Canadian, said he never thought something like that could happen at the Eaton Centre, a Toronto landmark that is popular with tourists. Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest cities in North America. Many Canadians have long taken comfort in the peacefulness of their communities and are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to their American counterparts. Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were on the ground, he said. Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald's in the mall's food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits. "Any place for discharging a firearm in Toronto is dangerous. In the food court of the Eaton Centre on a Saturday evening, it's not only dangerous, it's outrageous," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said. "I believe every Torontonian is shocked and appalled by this crime." In 2005, a 15-year-old girl was killed during the Christmas holidays just north of the mall in a shooting that shocked the city during a year of record gun deaths in Toronto. In that case, Toronto teen Jane Creba was shopping with family on busy Yonge Street when she was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between rival gangs. "Today harkens back to that terrible moment," Blair said. "I am very sadly reminded of that. That was one of the most tragic and shocking events that ever took place in Toronto." The major and acting Deputy Police Chief Jeff McGuire called it an isolated incident. "One idiot with a gun on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto does not speak to the state of affairs of the city of Toronto," he said. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that "such depraved and monstrous acts will be met with the full force of the law" and expressed confidence police will make an arrest. Officials said the mall and its parking garages will remain closed Sunday while police continue the investigation. Rachel Kennedy was two hours into her shift at The Gap on Saturday when someone ran into the store and reported hearing gun shots, said she remains on edge. "It's a little bit nerve-racking," Kennedy said.

Jay Cutler remaining Bears starter not assured when he returns from thumb injury

Jay Cutler remaining Bears starter not assured when he returns from thumb injury

Lovie Smith was clear: “Rex is our quarterback.”

Phil Emery was clear: Jay Cutler is an “elite” quarterback.

John Fox isn’t so clear: When Jay Cutler is cleared to return from his thumb injury, Cutler is not automatically still the Bears starting quarterback.

"I don't think there are any givens and that's not an indictment on anybody,” Fox said on Monday. “This is a day-to-day, week-to-week, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and so we’re just trying to get the best 11 guys out there regardless of the position to where we can play a full 60 minutes and get a victory.”

Tough love is arguably the most effective management style with Cutler. Unlike the contracts and praise heaped on Cutler by prior administrations, current coaches and the organization withheld judgment on him after taking over in 2015. Cutler, who typically played worse after getting contract extensions and gaudy compliments, responded with the best season of his career.

Cutler watched from the sidelines as the Bears were beaten 31-17 by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday behind Brian Hoyer, who was able to give the Bears some production in the second half for the first time this year, albeit only after the Bears were down 24-3.

“I thought [Hoyer] made good decisions,” Fox said, then qualified, “Not all of them. I think the very first play of the game didn’t go quite as smooth as we’d like. I thought he did some good things. I thought the pass-pro and some of those things helped the situation. I think we did have some explosive runs — we had more explosive plays in this game than we did in the prior two. We’ll evaluate that as we move forward and prepare for Detroit.”

The ultimate question is not whether Brian Hoyer is as good as Jay Cutler.

The evaluation will be whether Hoyer had success because the pass protection and run game worked better, or the bigger question, did those phases of the offense work better because of Hoyer. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has stated that a primary job of a quarterback is to get the other 10 players on the huddle to do theirs well. If the evaluation process, which could include another game next Sunday when the Detroit Lions come to Soldier Field, points to the offense functioning better for Hoyer, the Bears will have a major decision to make.

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Cutler has been benched because of performance only once in Chicago, late in 2014, for one game. He started the following week because Jimmy Clausen sustained a concussion.

Some perspectives on Bears QB switches

Back in 2005, while over at a social event during Super Bowl week in Detroit, a prominent member of the Bears’ defense vented on a decision that in his opinion cost the Bears their season. That decision was to go back to Rex Grossman as quarterback from Kyle Orton, who had been the quintessential game manager as a fourth-round rookie filling in while Grossman worked back from a broken ankle suffered in preseason.

“We’d’ve been here [in the Super Bowl] if we’d’a stayed with Kyle,” the Pro Bowl defender said.

That didn’t happen in the “Rex is our quarterback” phase of Smith’s tenure.

Josh McCown by his own assessment was not as good a player as Cutler in 2013 when the best-chance-to-win decision had to be made between those two. Coaches wanted to stay with McCown, the GM insisted on Cutler; the team stayed on course with Cutler, accelerated that direction actually, letting McCown leave for Tampa Bay and giving Cutler the “Jay is our quarterback” max contract.

But while Smith was invested in Grossman, who did get the Bears to the Super Bowl the next year, and Phil Emery invested in Cutler, who has won just one playoff game in his seven Bears seasons, coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace have not gone all-in on quarterbacks they inherited. They stayed with Cutler without any real alternative last year, and Fox admitted that Cutler was perhaps one of the biggest positive surprises coming out of last season, when then-coordinator Adam Gase was the loudest voice in the room on that quarterback decision and the organization stayed with the quarterback to whom millions were guaranteed.

Now there is an alternative, who like McCown was vis’a’vis Cutler, is not Cutler’s football equal physically (“Have you seen him throw?” McCown answered one reporter asking what Cutler did that he, McCown, couldn’t).

Whether the Bears take that alternative will play out in practice and possibly a game over the next seven days.

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Spencer Abbott enjoyed his short stint in Rockford, which came after he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2015. At the time, he thought staying here was his most likely plan.

Then he got an offer Frölunda in Sweden.

“I thought, ‘why not give it a shot? Maybe it’ll be a good experience and bring it back with me,’” said Abbott on Monday. “It was worth it, for sure. I have no regrets.”

Abbott, who’s back with the Blackhawks, had never been to Europe prior to getting that Frölunda offer. But his first trip across the pond was a good one as Abbott was part of Frölunda’s run to its Swedish and Champions hockey league titles. Abbott had 14 goals and 21 assists in 51 regular-season games. Abbott got plenty out of the games, but not nearly as much as he did in the team’s training camp.

“The first month and a half you’re over there, you’re there from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] every day. I think over here there’s a rule against being here for more than 3-4 hours, but not over there. It’s like a 9-5 job for a month and a half, a lot of working out, a lot of bike riding. So for me, that was good because I had never been in that kind of shape before,” said Abbott, who added he’s trying to incorporate some of that into his routine here. “Training camps here are hard but they’re just different over there. There’s a lot of ice, bigger ice [overseas], so they really condition you. So my conditioning may be a bit better.”

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As much as Abbott loved his time in Sweden, he ultimately wanted to be back in the NHL. So when the Blackhawks offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at it. He’s gotten off to a good start this training camp, scoring a few goals in the team’s early scrimmages.

“I wasn’t sure how it would play out, to be honest. I’m 28 and pretty early in the summer they were showing interest,” Abbott said. “This is one for the places I really wanted to come, because I did l really like the organization when I was here for that brief period of time. Now I get the full effect as long as they’ll have me. It’s such a good organization.”

Abbott probably could have kept playing overseas but he wanted another chance in the NHL. He’s happy it’s once again coming in the Blackhawks’ organization.

“It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to play hockey nowadays in Europe. There are tons of leagues over there. But it didn’t interest me,” he said. “I wanted to come back and give it one more shot.”