17 people shot during violent weekend in Toronto
It was a violent holiday weekend in Toronto with 17 people shot in 14 different incidents.
“This is not a normal weekend in the City of Toronto,” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters, as he appealed for witnesses to call police at 416-808-3100 or contact Crime Stoppers.
Despite the violence spread across five different neighbourhoods, the chief said Toronto is safe for most people.
“Most of the shootings are occurring at nighttime and a lot of the places and some of the people that have been shot aren’t necessarily 9 to 5, wife and kids at home,” he said.
“If you’re kind of in that stratosphere, the odds of anything happening to you are very, very slim in this city,” he added.
Early Monday morning, at around 2:15 a.m., seven people were shot at a nightclub called District 45, also in the city’s northwest. About 100 people were present at the time.
One of the male victims had life-threatening injuries but he was later upgraded to non-life-threatening condition, according to police. The other victims had less serious injuries.
“We’ve got shell cases inside, shell cases outside,” Chief Saunders said. “We think this one is very solvable,” he added.
Hours later, at around 4:20 a.m., two people were sent to hospital following a shooting near Church and Adelaide Streets, near Toronto’s financial core. One of the male victims had life-threatening injuries and the other male victim was sent to hospital in serious condition, paramedics said.
Violence continued into the afternoon with police attending another shooting near Yorkdale shopping centre. One victim was transported to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A second victim was later found with non-serious injuries.
Then, late Monday night, police responded to two separate shooting incidents, one in the city’s northwest side and another in the city’s east end. One person was injured in each shooting, both suffering non-life threatening injuries.
Bullets also flew on Sunday in the Liberty Village area. There were reports of eight to 12 bullets unleashed in the dense residential neighbourhood at around 3:30 a.m. More shots were fired in the afternoon and a male victim was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
There was also a shooting at around 6 a.m. Sunday in the wealthy Bridle Path neighborhood at a home that had been rented on Airbnb. One male victim was sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries but his condition was later upgraded to non-life-threatening. Airbnb has suspended the listing.
Saturday was also violent day in the city’s northwest. Two people were injured by bullets Saturday afternoon near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West. One had serious injuries and the other had minor injuries.
Calls for handgun ban
After the shootings, Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement once again calling for a ban on handguns in the city.
“This was always put forward as a part of the answer to gun violence together with changes to other laws affecting things like bail, additional support for police, and the paramount need for all three governments to invest together in kids, families and neighbourhoods,” he said.
Earlier this year, the federal government passed a law strengthening background checks and forcing retailers to keep better records of firearm sales but it did not ban handguns.
Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, who is now the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, has not ruled out a ban but says that more consultation is needed.
There were approximately 7,100 victims of crimes involving guns in Canada in 2016, including 223 gun homicides. That same year, there were 2,026,011 firearms licenses in Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, there has been a sharp rise in reports of thefts of firearms. There were 1,116 reports of break-and-enters committed to steal firearms in 2016, up from 276 in 2009.