The spate of Toronto shooting deaths that has confounded policymakers continues with two deaths in a span of about 24 hours.
The first, early Sunday morning, claimed a life in a neighbourhood that, although historically troubled by gang violence, had been undergoing a period of relative calm.
Around 3:20 a.m., a lone gunman approached three friends drinking alcohol in a courtyard outside a Driftwood Avenue apartment complex, one of the many densely populated towers near the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue in the city’s north end.
The gunman fired, killing 25-year-old Karim Hirani.
The slaying is the 26th homicide by gunshot in Toronto in 2018, a year that has also seen an increase in shooting injuries, with 79 such victims. This time in 2017, 16 people had been killed by gunfire and 70 injured. Several of the fatal shootings in Toronto over the past three months have taken place in downtown neighbourhoods teeming with tourists, diners and pedestrian traffic.
The Jane and Finch intersection where Mr. Hirani was killed has had a reputation for violence – a 2007 Globe and Mail headline referred to it as “Canada’s toughest neighbourhood” − but had not accounted for any of Toronto’s 2018 shooting fatalities until Sunday. There hadn’t been a death by shooting in the neighbourhood since February, 2017, according to Toronto police data.
“We have been in a lull,” said Rev. Sky Starr, a long-time resident of the Jane and Finch neighbourhood and trauma counsellor who works with grieving family members in the aftermath of such shootings.
Toronto police detective Mike Carbone said that investigators do not believe, at least based on what they currently know, that Sunday’s shooting has anything to do with Toronto’s other recent shooting incidents.
“Right now, we don’t see any connection, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t at least consider the possibilities of there being connections with other homicides or other shootings – in this neighbourhood or other neighbourhoods,” Det. Carbone said.
Police believe Mr. Hirani was targeted by the gunman, who drove to the scene and parked his car nearby before firing on Mr. Hirani.
One of the two friends drinking with Mr. Hirani fled the scene, while the other stayed, Det. Carbone said. He urged the friend that ran from the scene to contact Toronto police or Crime Stoppers. “My appeal is to that person to come forward as well,” he said.
Det. Carbone described the gunman as a male in his 20s wearing a hooded sweatshirt with dark pants.
The second shooting came in the north end of Toronto, when a man was shot several times. Police are looking for a silver vehicle in connection.
With files from The Canadian Press