A number of Toronto communities are voicing concern after a slew of shootings that left 17 people injured over the Civic Holiday long weekend.
Although the scene at Mossbank Drive and Lawrence Avenue East in Toronto’s east end has since cleared, neighbourhood residents told Global News they are still in shock after gunfire rang out near a home just after 11 p.m. on Monday.
Toronto police said officers arrived on the scene and found shell casings but no victim. Police said a man later showed up at hospital suffering from a gunshot wound and was later transported to a trauma centre.
“Very loud, not like a small gun. Bang, bang — no, it was very very loud. Three, four times, something like that,” area resident Emilios Cosma told Global News Tuesday.
“I’ve lived here for over 25 years. This is the first time it’s happened — first time.”
Seventeen people were shot over the long weekend, including seven at a nightclub early Monday. There were no reported fatalities.
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The first shooting incident 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, and a man was shot in Liberty Village just hours later. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders spoke to reporters and said additional resources would be deployed “in specific places that we think will help deter and reduce the gun violence that’s occurring in the city right now.”
Amy Hayley, who lives in Scarborough, told Global News she agreed that more officers patrolling the neighbourhood and connecting with the community would “help a lot.”
“I know they do try but I don’t see them as much as I would like to,” she said.
In North York, a 16-year-old boy was shot dead on the Thursday before the long weekend.
“What I can recall of the past three years, the shooting is escalating. Like, are we becoming like New York? Are we becoming like U.S.? Canada used to be so peaceful 10 years ago, and now every minute is (sic) hearing a shooting,” North York resident Vernett Richards told Global News.
In response, Toronto Community Housing staff, along with the City of Toronto Crisis Response Team, Toronto police and Coun. Frances Nunziata, are hosting a safety meeting for the residents of the Jane-Falstaff community Tuesday evening.
“The meeting will be an opportunity for tenants to share their concerns about safety and provide input into a community safety plan,” a press release said.
Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory called the incidents “unacceptable” and reiterated his stance on a handgun ban.
“I get a combination of feelings about it,” he said. “I’m angry about it because it’s a small group of people, relatively speaking, in a relatively safe city, that are challenging that safe status of Toronto.
“I’m frustrated by it, because we have been taking a number of measures across the spectrum ranging all the way from significant increase to the police budget through to successfully getting the province to help us with a special bail court for people on firearms charges through to significantly increased investment in kids and families in some of these neighbourhoods that spawn gang activity.”
WATCH: Toronto police chief addresses spate of gun violence over long weekend
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, called the incidents “brazen and offensive.”
While he was critical of how Saunders handled the weekend violence, he agreed with the need to get more resources on the ground.
“I would start to get the resources and look at how you can and look at how you can deploy and get people embedded into the neighbourhoods and stuff,” he said.
However, he added that the Toronto Police Service is “tapped out” and that it is down 900 uniformed officers since 2010.
“There needs to be a plan. We need to hire. We need to get more people in as quick as we can to get the resources that we need,” McCormack said.
According to Toronto police statistics, to date in 2019, there have been 130 people killed or injured in a shooting. That’s down slightly from 135 victims at the same time in 2018 and up from 61 victims five years ago at this time.
In July alone, the statistics show 18 people have been shot in Toronto. That is down from July 2018 when there were 32 injured and killed in Toronto. There were 31 gunshot victims injured and killed in July 2017.
— With files from Morganne Campbell, Nick Westoll and Catherine McDonald