Gunshots rang out on street corners, in nightclubs and at house parties across the city over the long weekend, injuring 15, Toronto police said Monday.
“This is not a normal weekend in the city of Toronto,” Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference. “I did not anticipate in a three-day or a two-day span that I’d be talking about  people shot.”
The 14th and 15th victims were shot Monday afternoon in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood. A man was transported to hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries, according to police. Another person later arrived at hospital with a gunshot wound.
It was the 12th shooting incident police responded to in the span of three days. The incidents do not appear to be connected, Chief Saunders said.
Early Monday morning, Toronto police responded to a shooting at the District 45 nightclub in North York, where five people were shot. Gunshots erupted inside the busy venue just before 2 a.m., causing people to flee the scene in a panic, police said. Shell casings have also been recovered outside the club. Chief Saunders urged anyone with information on the shooting to contact police.
Three people were transported to hospital in the wake of the shooting, one of them with life-threatening injuries. Two others checked themselves in to be treated for gunshot wounds.
“I find [this shooting] disturbing,” Chief Saunders said. “You’ve got over 100 people [in the club] and someone would be brazen enough to pull out a gun and start shooting.”
Two men were also shot near Church Street and Adelaide Street Monday morning, police said, and early Sunday morning, a man was shot at a mansion in the Bridle Path area that was being rented as an Airbnb at the time. Police are searching for three suspects in that incident, the chief said.
The weekend highlights mounting gun violence in Canada’s largest city.
More than 350 people have been shot in Toronto this year. By this time in 2018, 318 people had been shot in the city according to Toronto Police numbers.
If the trend continues, this will be the fourth year in a row that gun violence has increased in the city. In 2018, 613 people were shot in Toronto in 428 separate incidents.
Mayor John Tory called the violence “unacceptable” in a statement Monday, and reaffirmed his position on banning handguns, which he said would help address gun violence in the city.
Chief Saunders said he’d leave the decision to ban handguns to politicians, but added any move to take firearms off of Toronto streets is a “good day for the city.”
Not all the shootings resulted in injuries. No one was injured at four of the scenes where police responded to reports of gunshots over the weekend. By contrast, four of the shooting incidents had multiple victims, Chief Saunders said.
Most of the shootings occurred at night, Chief Saunders said, saying that people living a 9-to-5 lifestyle are unlikely to be at risk of gun violence while going about their daily lives.
He cautioned people attending bars or clubs to leave if they felt unsafe and said that the increased number of people celebrating in Toronto over the long weekend may have been a factor in the spike in shootings.
A third of the shootings this weekend occurred in neighbourhoods northwest of downtown, according to police.
Last week, Toronto police said they are investigating seven shooting incidents that all occurred in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood in July, the same area where two people were shot Monday.
On Thursday, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed inside a North York apartment building.
The number of people injured by gunfire this weekend could increase as people continue to check themselves into hospital, a police spokesperson said Monday afternoon.