Police are searching for at least seven suspects who launched an “ambush-style attack” in Mississauga on a group filming a rap video, killing a 17-year-old male bystander.
The boy died at the scene and five other people – a 13-year-old girl, a 16-year-old boy, two 17-year-old boys and a woman in her 50s – were injured. Police believe some of the others were bystanders. One person has since been released from hospital. Peel Regional Police Chief McCord said police have found more than 100 shell casings in the area. It is the 18th homicide in Peel Region this year.
The police chief said it was an “indiscriminate attack” and there were many families in the area as well as an ice-cream truck parked in the complex.
The shooting happened Saturday night outside of an apartment complex in Mississauga, west of Toronto. Chief McCord said the shooters were armed with semi-automatic handguns and investigators believe the intended targets were among a group preparing to film a rap video.
“This was an ambush-type attack,” Chief McCord told reporters on Sunday. “The attackers had complete disregard for public safety within our community.”
Chief McCord said the suspects were dressed in dark clothing, some hiding their faces with balaclavas as they made their way on foot to a parkette behind an apartment complex where a rap video was expected to be filmed. He said investigators believe an earlier video shot at the scene motivated the shooting.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said she was “saddened and shocked” by the incident, and called on the province to give the region more funding for initiatives to counter guns and gangs.
“There is a lot more that we can do to ensure that our youth are engaged in youth programming, then they’re not involved in gang activity,” she said.
In late August, Ontario unveiled its plan for $54-million in federal money for anti-gang initiatives, which will be spread over the next three years. The funds are earmarked for specialized prosecutors, policing projects and intelligence-gathering efforts in jails.
The province has said it will use the cash to expand a dedicated team of firearms bail prosecutors in Peel Region and to establish a guns and gangs fund for policing projects in the Greater Toronto Area and the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which stretches from the Niagara Region to the Durham Region.
“We offer our sincere condolences on behalf of the people of Ontario and it should be understood that our government is working urgently with local police, prosecutors and community partners to stop gun violence from shattering more lives,” Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
“Our message is clear: The violence must end now.”
The federal money follows word from Queen’s Park that it would provide $3-million for new police surveillance cameras in Toronto. And earlier in August, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced $1.5-million in funding for Toronto to combat guns and gangs.
The shooting reverberated on the federal election campaign trail on Sunday, where politicians offered their condolences to the victims.
Mr. Trudeau was set to attend a rally in Mississauga on Sunday night with Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu.
He said he would be speaking with Ms. Crombie about the situation.
“Our thoughts go out to all the victims and the families of the terrible shooting in Mississauga,” Mr. Trudeau said outside of a café in Cobourg, Ont.
“I will highlight that we took some significant measures to strengthen gun control in the past mandate, measures that [Conservative Leader] Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives have committed to repeal moving forward. We know there’s more to do and we will be doing more.”
Speaking in Surrey, B.C., Mr. Scheer said Canadians have the right to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods.
“My plan for a safer Canada specifically addresses illegal firearms, it talks about giving greater resources to Canadian border services authorities to track and crack down and capture illegal firearms and firearms that were trafficked, as well as greater penalties for these types of offences including gang members,” Mr. Scheer said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Sherbrooke, Que., called the incident “horrible,” adding the violence “really strikes close to home.”
Gun violence is an issue across Canada particularly in urban centres, Mr. Singh added, noting his party supports allowing municipalities the ability to ban handguns while he stressed the need to address the “roots of violence” for young people.
With reports from The Canadian Press and Kristy Kirkup, Janice Dickson and Michelle Zilio