Two men were shot Sunday afternoon on a retail strip in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, alarming residents and prompting heavily armoured tactical officers to descend on the east-end community.
Toronto police said they arrested two men in connection with the shooting, which took place around 2:40 p.m. on Queen Street East just west of Woodbine Avenue. Three firearms were recovered by investigators, Toronto police said in a statement.
Both victims survived the attack and were conscious when responders arrived on scene, Toronto police said. Witnesses said the victims were each brought out of a store, Wine Rack, by paramedics on stretchers. One victim’s head was heavily bandaged, said Gloria Flemming, an employee at a Living Lighting store across the street from the scene.
Police believe the shooting started when the two victims were in a vehicle, but that they were out of the car by the time paramedics arrived. Ms. Flemming said an ambulance arrived at the scene first and shortly after at least seven tactical officers carrying automatic weapons fanned out across the block.
Toronto police said the two suspects initially fled the scene on foot but were later apprehended. A black Audi SUV was parked in front of Wine Rack and was the only vehicle on the portion of the street that police cordoned off while they investigated.
Ms. Flemming said she had never experienced, or expected to see, this sort of violence in the Beaches. “Not in this neighbourhood,” she said.
The midday shooting comes after a marked increase in gun-related violence in Toronto in 2018 – a spike in shootings that prompted Border Security Minister Bill Blair to launch a series of cross-country consultations on whether to strengthen Canada’s gun restrictions.
In 2018, there were 96 homicides in Toronto, which broke the previous record of 89 in 1991. Toronto police data show that 51 of the homicides in 2018 were by shooting.