The owner of a Toronto bakery where six people were injured after a shooting early Wednesday says he was close to being struck by a bullet while working.
“A lot of people started to run inside and after they ran inside somebody screamed out, ‘I got shot, I got shot,’” Loxsley Brissett, the owner of Spence’s Bakery on Eglinton Avenue West near Oakwood Avenue, told reporters hours after the shooting.
He said he was working in the back of the business at the time of the shooting.
“If I [stood] up, I would die.”
Toronto Police Supt. Shaun Narine said emergency crews were called to the 24-hour business just after 2 a.m. He said several people were grouped together in front of the bakery keeping cover from the rain.
“At that point, a dark SUV driving eastbound on Eglinton Avenue West did a U-turn just east of the location, circled back westbound, slowed down, and the occupants of that vehicle at the time discharged multiple rounds striking six victims,” Narine described, adding it’s believed some of the victims hit were bystanders.
“Everything right now leads to the hallmarks that it is a gang-related and targeted event.”
All of the victims, a woman and five men between the ages of 30 and 69, were taken to various Toronto hospitals with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Narine said as of Wednesday afternoon, five of the six victims were released and that the last patient was set to be released later in the day.
Narine said the business is well-liked in the community.
“It’s a great location. Our officers visit that location on a regular basis, know the store owners. They’re a long traditional location there, that’s not a gang-related location. I want to make that quite clear,” he said.
Dr. Jill Andrew, the NDP MPP for Toronto–St. Paul’s, said Spence’s Bakery and Little Jamaica serve as important institutions in the riding and in the city. She reiterated calls for increased actions by the provincial and federal governments.
“This violence has no place on our streets, and our resilient community is coming together to address it,” she wrote in a statement.
“The problem must be addressed from all angles. Governments must address the root causes of violence, including poverty, the lack of housing families can afford, and the neglect of critical services – including education, mental health and addictions supports, culture and youth programming, and community spaces.
“Making our community safer also must include a focus on economic empowerment and prosperity. Helping ensure that Little Jamaica’s small businesses and people make it out of this pandemic stronger than ever before is critical to building up the community.”
Mayor John Tory echoed Andrew’s comments about the need for investments and action, calling the shooting “unacceptable” and “a tragedy.”
“Every person shot in our city is a tragedy. The hurt and the pain and the anguish caused by gun violence to people in our city and to communities in our city is real,” Tory told reporters.
“It is reckless. It demonstrates an absolute disregard for human life. In that sense we’re just going to have to continue and redouble our efforts to fight this kind of violence.”
He went on to praise the efforts of emergency crews in responding to the shooting.
“I have no doubt their emergency response helped to save lives and save more serious trauma and prevent a greater tragedy,” he said.
Eglinton Avenue West between Oakwood and Marlee avenues was closed for several hours as investigators gathered evidence, but all lanes were reopened at around 6:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, anyone with information was asked to call police, or Crime Stoppers anonymously.
“There were a few businesses here that were open overnight. We’re encouraging anyone that saw anything at all or has any kind of footage … to come forward,” Insp. Tim Crone said.
“This is a very brazen shooting at this hour of the night with no regard whatsoever for any kind of safety.”