Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says there will be additional resources in certain parts of the city after 17 people were shot over the Civic Holiday long weekend, seven of whom were at a nightclub early Monday.
“When I’ve got 13 people right now in the city that have been shot, that have a bullet in them, I’ve got concerns for that,” Saunders said during a rare holiday Monday afternoon news conference.
“We will be putting additional resources in specific places that we think will help deter and reduce the gun violence that’s occurring in the city right now.”
Saunders didn’t specifically say what those measures may include.
Less than four hours after he spoke, a man received serious, but non-life-threatening injuries after he was shot near Flemington and Stockton roads, south of Yorkdale Mall. Police said in an update Monday evening that a second victim made their way to hospital.
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At around 9:50 p.m. on Monday in a parking lot near Scarlett Road and Braeburn Avenue, south of Dixon Road, police said a man was shot in the arm. More than an hour later, officers said a man believed to be shot near Mossbank Drive and Lawrence Avenue East, east of Scarborough Golf Club Road, showed up at hospital with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Meanwhile, the first shooting incident of the long weekend happened Saturday afternoon.
Officers were called to the Dufferin Street and Glen Long Avenue area, south of Lawrence Avenue West, at around 2:30 p.m. where two male victims were found with gunshot wounds.
On Sunday morning, a man was shot and seriously injured at a Bridle Path home.
Hours later, a man was shot in Liberty Village and received non-life-threatening injuries just hours after shots were fired outside of a Liberty Village nightclub. There were no reports of anyone being shot in the earlier incident.
Early on Monday, gunfire rang out inside and outside at the District 45 nightclub on Finch Avenue West, near Keele Street, as hundreds were gathered in the area.
“I find this one very bothersome,” he said.
“I find it disturbing when you’ve got over 100 people and someone would be brazen enough to pull out a gun and start shooting. It’s very early. It’s very solvable.”
Two hours later, officials said three people were injured after a vehicle was shot at on Lombard Street near Church Street and Richmond Street East.
Saunders said as of Monday afternoon, there is no evidence to suggest a connection between any of the shooting incidents. He was asked about his message to those afraid of gun violence.
“Most of the shootings are occurring at nighttime. A lot of the places and some of the people who have been shot aren’t necessarily nine-to-five, wife and kids and home. If you’re kind of in that stratosphere, then the odds of anything happening to you are very, very slim in this city,” Saunders said, adding he wants to work with the community to solve the District 45 shooting.
“When someone’s shooting with 100-plus people in a club, that’s not a good day for us.”
Mayor John Tory issued a statement and reiterated his call for a ban on handguns and assault rifles.
“The gun violence we have seen in recent days in our city is absolutely unacceptable … I remain firmly of the belief that a handgun ban will help us address the gun violence we are experiencing in our city and the surrounding region,” he wrote.
“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.”
Saunders wouldn’t say if he supports a similar ban, adding he’ll leave that debate to politicians.
“I’ve got people that are shot. I’ve got people that are shooting people. I want to use my resources and all of my energy to solve these cases and bring them before the court system,” he said.
“Anything that does remove a handgun is a good day for the city. There is no real silver bullet. There’s so many aspects of why people are doing it, but at the end of the day people are getting shot and I’ve got concerns about that and its immediacy.”
According to the most recent Toronto police statistics (as of July 29), there were 98 shooting incidents so far in 2019 with 18 deaths and 106 people injured. By the same date in 2018, there were 102 shooting incidents with 30 deaths and 103 people injured. 2018 and 2019 saw a higher number of deaths and injuries from guns compared to 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“I will say that this is not a normal weekend in the city of Toronto. I did not anticipate that in a three-day span that I was going to be talking about 13 people shot. This is not Toronto,” Saunders said.
“Rest assured that I will be providing the resources where they need to be to solve these cases and also working with various stakeholders to see what we can do to help reduce the gun violence that’s happening in the city.”