Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders says gang violence is to blame for a shooting that injured four people near the city’s Lawrence Heights neighbourhood Saturday, an area of the city that has recently been plagued with gun violence.
Police said over 30 shots were fired around 1 a.m. in the area of Marlee and Glencairn avenues.
In a press conference addressing the shooting Saturday afternoon, Saunders said officers found two men with gunshot wounds around the scene of the shooting and a third man who had been shot made his own way to hospital.
A fourth victim, also a man, called police two hours later and was found in a portable toilet in the area, police said.
All of the victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“It looked targeted, it looked intended by what we have so far,” Saunders said.
He added one of the four victims was a bystander.
Four suspects were waiting in a dark sedan when three of them exited with guns and began firing at the victims, he said. They allegedly got back into the vehicle, fled the scene, and are now outstanding.
Saunders said at least one of the victims began shooting back at the suspects.
He added that one of the victims is known to police and previously had a conviction relating to gun crimes, but he would not say if that was the same victim who allegedly shot back at the suspects.
The three victims who investigators believe were connected with the shooting are not cooperating with the investigation, he said, adding retaliatory shootings are “absolutely” likely in the wake of the shooting.
“Retribution is one of the critical factors (for gangs) … to have legitimacy,” he said.
Saunders said the city is on track to expect “hundreds” of more gang-related shootings before the end of the year.
Images from the scene Saturday show a black minivan with numerous bullet holes in it, and a bullet hole in an apartment window nearby.
“We have located one stray bullet as well which I find very upsetting,” Saunders said.
Global News spoke to Walli Mohammad, the owner of the apartment where the stray bullet ended up.
Mohammad, who moved to Canada from Afghanistan six years ago in search for safety, said he was watching a movie with his young children when he heard a bang and soon realized that a bullet had gone into his TV.
“What is different between our country and here?” he said Saturday.
The shooting comes just one day after the provincial government announced funding for 40 new CCTV cameras for the city in an effort to combat a recent rise in gun violence.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.
WATCH: (Aug. 6) Lawrence heights just one community reeling after long weekend gun violence
– With files from The Canadian Press