TORONTO – On a weekend where three people in Toronto were killed in instances involving guns, the president of the police union says that level of gun violence isn’t an anomaly.
Police releases reveal that throughout the month of January, there were nine homicides – eight of them involved guns. But media reports from the time show that in January 2015, only one person was killed by a gunshot wound.
“This isn’t an anomaly by any stretch of the imagination,” said Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association. “It’s been continuing for weeks and months now.”
Two of this year’s homicides occurred early Sunday morning, in a rush of gunfire that sent three more people to hospital.
Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone said police were called to Kensington Market shortly after 3 a.m. It appears there was an altercation between a group of men before the gunfire broke out.
One of the men died at the scene, a second was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. During a press conference, Carbone announced that the second man had died.
Carbone said police were looking for surveillance tapes that may have captured the incident, and he asked for anyone with cellphone video to come forward.
There was no word on suspects, and the victims’ names were not released Sunday evening.
And it’s not just about the deaths – police statistics released last week show that overall shootings have more than doubled this January over the same month last year, and the number of gunfire-related injuries is up as well.
McCormack said the rise in violence can’t be attributed to just one thing.
But he speculated that perhaps the rise in gun violence is, at least in part, because of a lack of “intelligence-gathering”. He said that officers need clear directions from the province on how to conduct the controversial practice of street checks, or whether to conduct them at all.
But he said that little scientific research has been done into street checks, also known as carding, and there’s no data to back up the suggestion that increasing the number of street checks would decrease gun violence.
“These are not shootings that are occurring out of view,” McCormack said. “These are happening in public places. We had a woman who was wounded on King Street in front of the King Edward Hotel because of a shooting the other day. So I think we’re going to see more civilians injured.”