Recent spate of 'brazen' gun violence in Toronto raising alarm
As temperatures rise in Canada’s largest city so has the number of gun-related crimes. A recent spate of high-profile shootings in bustling Toronto neighbourhoods has raised concerns about public safety, prompting a response from Mayor John Tory.
In the span of 12 days, there have been five homicides from gun violence and in May alone, there were 52 shootings in the city. As of May 27, there have been 162 shootings in Toronto this year, an 11 per cent increase from the same time last year, according to the Toronto Police Service.
A number of these attacks have occurred in busy areas frequented by residents and tourists alike, such as the death of a man who was gunned down in a parking garage in the financial district last weekend or the murder of a tech CEO in the affluent Yorkville neighbourhood this week or the more recent shooting death of an 18-year-old man at Yonge-Dundas Square on Wednesday.
In response to the heightened awareness of the violence, Tory reassured people that Toronto continues to be a “safe city” despite the recent spike in violence.
“The incidents of gun violence we have seen in our city in the past few days are shocking and can in no way be accepted or brushed aside,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “Police are also deploying additional resources where they believe they will be most effective.”
The mayor also said that Police Chief Mark Saunders assured him that officers are doing everything possible to apprehend those responsible.
‘A lot more brazen’
Despite the alarm, one former Toronto homicide detective says the attacks are most likely targeted events related to illegal drug activity.
Mark Mendelson, a former Toronto homicide detective, said that every year there’s a rash of shootings in the city, usually in the spring or summer.
“This is a cyclical event,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “I think it’s just that people are out.”
However, Mendelson did acknowledge that the recent killings have been different from those in previous years.
“What we’re seeing, at least this year, is that they’re a lot more brazen than they’ve been in years past,” he said.
Even though the gun violence appears to be more out in the open, Mendelson said residents and visitors to the city shouldn’t be afraid.
“You can only take reasonable precautions,” he said. “We live in a city of over four-and-a-half million people on any given day. You can’t live in a bubble. The people who are being killed have some connection to some nefarious activities; otherwise they wouldn’t be targeted to be killed.”
Mendelson predicts the gun crime will drop again soon as those responsible attract more attention from the public and from the police.
“We’ve noticed over the last couple of years the trend is it just kind of dips off,” he said. “The bad guys don’t like it when the police are on them either. When the heat’s on them and the microscope is on them, they get concerned too so they level off.”