Hours before members of a west-end Toronto neighbourhood were set to come together to a “community safety debriefing meeting” after a 12-year-old was recently shot, the boy’s father appealed for help amid repeated instances of gun violence.
“I just want people to know that it’s a problem what’s happening. You can’t go outside and even throw your garbage (away) or you can’t even just take a walk in your own neighbourhood where you live, not even with your mother and every child is supposed to feel safe with their mother,” he said Wednesday afternoon.
“My son was supposed to feel safe and he wasn’t.”
It was just before 11 p.m. on July 30 when multiple shots were fired at a playground in front of an apartment complex on Falstaff Avenue, east of Jane Street. After emergency crews arrived, they found the injured boy. He was rushed to a Toronto hospital and treated for two gunshot wounds in his legs.
No one has been arrested in connection with the July 30 shooting.
The boy’s father, who asked not to be identified due to fears of retribution, called it a “blessing” that his young son didn’t need stitches or surgery.
“He just turned 12, so in my mind, he’s still 11 years old and to wake up every night tending his wounds,” he said, adding he’s thankful that his son is physically doing “OK” now.
The man said his son was playing basketball at a nearby court earlier in the evening and later realized he forgot his backpack at the court, which contained his PS4 controller. So his son and his fiancé, the boy’s mother, walked together to get the bag. As they were coming back, he said he happened to be walking toward his apartment balcony and that’s when gunshots were fired.
“When I looked over the balcony, I saw my fiancé and our son on the ground and he wasn’t moving. It was the most awful feeling I had. I felt very helpless,” the man recalled, describing how the boy’s mother crawled toward their son.
“It was one of those surreal feelings, you know. I told myself in that moment there, ‘I hope it’s not them,’ and it was them.
“On his way back coming home with his mom, they were shot at for no reason, for just coming home to where they live.”
Since the beginning of 2020, there have been eight shootings and instances of shots fired at the apartment complex, including the murder of a 20-year-old man in January. Meetings were held in the past in response and improvements such as a noticeable increase in lighting and security cameras.
However, he said promises were made to the community for additional fencing and gates to be built at the scene. Months later, he said he’s frustrated those commitments have yet to be fulfilled.
“I’ve seen it all, heard it all and every time something happens, it’s all promises and lies. Maybe sometimes some stuff gets done,” the man said, also questioning a lack of security at night.
“People can just walk in and shoot at them for no reason, hunt them down like animals. So everyone comes around when it’s election time and make promises, and get the votes from the people, and yet nothing gets done.
“What happened to my son and my fiancé maybe it wouldn’t take place. I don’t know, but it’s all I could hope for.”
The long-time resident told Global News he wants people to know they live in a “very beautiful neighbourhood,” but is calling for increased assistance.
“I think 99.9 per cent of the people who live here are good people, they’re hard-working people, and I think the City officials need to acknowledge that,” he said.
“There are good people living in Falstaff, hard-working people, they need to step up and do what’s right: Protect the community, take care of the kids, protect the kids.”