gun violence in Toronto

Violent Long Weekend Fuels Talks of Potential Handgun Ban in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The Civic Holiday long weekend in early August resulted in 17 people shot during 14 separate incidents in Toronto.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The first gun-related incident of the long weekend started at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, 2019.  Police were called to the Dufferin Street and Glen Long Avenue area where they found two male victims with gunshot wounds.

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, a man, whose identity has not been revealed, was left with life-threatening injuries at an Airbnb in one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Toronto, the Bridle Path (south of Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road).  Officers arrived at the property and found a man, conscious and breathing, lying on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper body.  He was immediately taken to hospital and stabilized.  It has been reported that between 20 and 30 people were at the home, which was being rented as an Airbnb.

Later on Sunday, a man received non-life-threatening injuries following a gunshot  in Liberty Village.

At least five people were injured at a nightclub in suburban North York early Monday, August 5, 2019.  One male was found to be in life-threatening condition and four others were found in non-life-threatening condition.  It was also reported that two more victims of this incident took themselves to hospital, but police have not confirmed that these two victims were injured in the nightclub incident.

Hours after responding to the nightclub incident, police were called to Lombard Street near Church Street and Richmond Street East.  Police reported that three individuals were injured after a vehicle was shot.

Police also responded to a gun-related incident shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, August 5 in the Lawrence Heights area, just south of Yorkdale Shopping Mall.  A man was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, which were found to be serious, but not life-threatening.  Another victim was able to make it to hospital on his/her own.

Later in the day, police responded to multiple gunshots heard in northwest Toronto.  Another victim of gunshot wounds was found.

Police Chief Mark Saunders does not believe that there is a connection between any of the shooting incidents in the city. 

TORONTO MAYOR CALLS FOR HANDGUN BAN

Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement calling the gun violence in Toronto “absolutely unacceptable”. 

Mayor Tory continues to advocate for a ban on handguns to address the perilous gun violence in Toronto.  He stated:

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 area.  I led city council – joined by other major Canadian cities – in sending a clear message on the need for a ban on handguns, assault rifles and semi-automatic firearms.  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.

Police Chief Mark Saunders responded to questions regarding a potential handgun ban by saying that “anything that removes a handgun, it is a good day in the city”.  He stated:

I’ll let the politicians work on that one.  I’ve got people that are shot.  I’ve got people that are shooting people.  I’m going to use my resources and all of my energy to solve these cases and bring them before the court systems. 

Chief Saunders has responded to the weekend of violence by advising that there will be additional resources in certain parts of the city to deter and reduce the gun violence.  He did not indicate what measures would be taken or which parts of the city the police would focus on. 

Mayor Tory announced earlier this week that the city of Toronto will be receiving $4.5 million to help fight gun violence from all levels of government, including the municipal, provincial and federal governments. However, it remains unclear as to how the funds will be utilized.

Chief Saunders advised that the police service will provide more information regarding its plan of how to use these additional funds shortly.

GUN-RELATED VIOLENCE STATISTICS

According to Statistics Canada, gun-related violent crime has been increasing since 2013.  Between 2013 and 2017, gun crime increased by 42% in Canada. 

According to Toronto police, shooting deaths in the city are at a three-year low.  Only 19 people have been killed as a result of shootings in Toronto in 2019, which is down from 30 deaths recorded last year at this time.

Gun violence in the city of Toronto is also comparable to past years.  There are 244 recorded “shooting occurrences” in 2019, which is comparable to 238 occurrences in 2018 and 226 in 2017.  There have been 365 victims of shooting occurrences in 2019, 324 victims in 2018 and 335 victims in 2017.

We will continue to follow the anticipated police service plan to utilize the funds provided by all levels of government to fight gun violence in Toronto and will report any developments in this blog.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced Oshawa criminal defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.

Gun Violence Increasing in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The deadly rampage in Toronto last Sunday is just another tragedy in the growing list of fatal shootings in our city. In the wake of a violent summer and in an effort to reduce gun violence in Toronto, Police Chief Mark Saunders (“Saunders”) and Mayor John Tory announced plans to add 200 frontline officers to the night shift.

The additional police officers will be on the job between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. in designated areas of the city that are in need of the added police presence. Officers will be focusing on areas where police have seen gun and gang activity. The increased police presence will last for an eight week period, at which point Toronto police will re-evaluate their needs.

Saunders clarified that neighbourhoods will not be inundated with police,

It’s about being focused and strategic in our deployment. This is not about turning communities upside down. That will never be the intention.

According to Toronto police, there have been 228 shootings in Toronto and 29 people killed in 2018. In comparison to 2017, at the same time of year there were 188 shootings and only 17 deaths. This is a 53% increase in shooting deaths since 2017. The increase has largely been blamed on gang activity.

The most recent tragic event involving gun violence in Toronto occurred on July 23, 2018 after 10:00 p.m. in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood. A 29-year-old gunman opened fire resulting in two innocent deaths and thirteen wounded individuals.

Following this recent rampage, Mayor Tory confessed that guns are too accessible in Toronto and stated:

We have a gun problem in that guns are readily available to too many people. The police are doing their best, but they’re operating under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to deal with these guns.

PLANS TO TACKLE GUN VIOLENCE IN TORONTO

Mayor Tory announced a $15-million plan to confront gun crime in Toronto. These funds are coming from all three levels of government. Some of this money will be allocated to 16 community initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing youth from joining gangs. These initiatives include new employment opportunities, job fairs in marginalized communities, establishing a children’s mental health recovery team, and the expansion of existing programs. Some of the money will be allocated to YouthWorx, which is a program by Toronto Community Housing that employs young people in various fields.

Toronto is also in the process of applying for federal funding available to municipalities through the National Crime Prevention Strategy.

 SHOOTINGS IN TORONTO THIS SUMMER

The following is a list of some of the shootings that have occurred in the Greater Toronto Area since the beginning of summer 2018:

  1. June 24: Two men shot and killed inside a home in Etobicoke;
  2. June 24: Drive-by shooting in North York;
  3. June 25: Man shot and killed inside an apartment building in the early morning in Toronto;
  4. June 28: Man arrived at a hospital in Toronto with a gunshot wound to his foot;
  5. June 29: Pedestrian and cyclist shot in Moss Park neighbourhood;
  6. June 30: Two men dead and another woman injured during a daylight shooting in Toronto’s Entertainment District;
  7. June 30: Teenage boy collapsed from a gunshot wound behind a church in the Downsview area;
  8. July 1: Man shot and killed and three others injured in a shooting in Kensington Market;
  9. July 3: Man suffered bullet wound to the hip in a drive-by shooting in the Fashion District;
  10. July 8: Man shot and killed in parking lot in North York, believed to be a targeted attack;
  11. July 9: Man killed in shooting in Black Creek neighbourhood;
  12. July 9: Man shot in the Annex neighbourhood;
  13. July 22: Woman and young girl shot and killed and 13 others injured on the Danforth.

FEDERAL REACTION TO TORONTO’S GUN VIOLENCE

Former Toronto police chief and current Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Bill Blair, reports that he has been in touch with Major Tory and Saunders to discuss the latest deadly shooting in Toronto and how Ottawa can support the city’s efforts to put an end to the increasing incidence of gun violence. Blair will be working closely with Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford have also had discussions following the latest shooting in Toronto about how the two levels of government can work together.

Premier Ford has also confirmed that all three levels of government will be working together to tackle the gun violence sweeping through Toronto. He stated:

As Premier, my commitment to you is that I will do everything in my power to keep our neighbourhoods safe. We will make sure our police have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, and we will work with our municipal and federal counterparts to identify, apprehend and convict those who commit, or plan to commit violence.

TORONTO REQUESTS NEW TECHNOLOGY TO RESTRICT GUNS

Mere days before the horrific shooting spree, Toronto’s police services board had requested more security cameras and new technology to be installed in parts of the city to help curb gun violence. The board has requested more than double the number of closed circuit police cameras in public places where gang activity and gun violence are known to take place. This would bring the total number of police cameras to approximately 80.

The board is also requesting that the city implement “ShotSpotter” technology that uses microphones to detect and locate gunfire, and automatically informs the police.

It will cost $4-million over the next two years to implement both of these measures. This will likely be covered by the crime prevention funding from both the federal and provincial governments.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced Oshawa defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.