TORONTO — Mayor John Tory says a surge of fatal shootings in January is largely the result of violent exchanges between street gangs, and that the public is not at risk.
Of the 10 homicides in January, eight were gun deaths, while the cause in one case remains unknown. That’s up from four homicides the same month last year, of which only two involved firearms.
The month ended bloodily, with three people gunned down last weekend — including two Sunday outside a restaurant in a late-night stretch of Chinatown, gunfire that also injured three others.
Yet Tory said Monday that while the spike in shooting deaths is concerning, the gunfire is predominately between rival gangs — not random public gunplay.
“Almost all of them were gang-related, retaliatory activity back-and-forth between those gangs,” Tory told reporters after speaking with Police Chief Mark Saunders about the shootings.
Take them out and you’re left with a “tiny number” of deaths, Tory said.
Tory also laid blame with what he called an increase in the number of people carrying guns.
He called on citizens to help police with any tips on those involved in gang activity.
“We have to get these anti-social people out of our midst and in custody where they belong so this kind of retaliatory gang activity will stop.”
Despite public concern, the “vast majority of the city at the vast majority of the times” remains safe, Tory added.
He called gang violence “a complex and very troubling issue” that isn’t prone to a simple solution.