Two people are being treated for gunshot wounds after four separate shootings on Monday night in Toronto.
The incidents happened between about 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., three of them in northern parts of the city, and one outside a hotel in the west end. The injuries are serious, but not life-threatening, police said.
The burst of violence comes amid a large increase in shootings this year. At this point in 2018, which had the most shootings in Toronto history, 383 victims had been recorded. So far, 2019 has had 449. This year also leads in gun-related injuries between January and September, as well as individual shootings. However, while shootings themselves are on the rise, fatalities (24 so far this year, compared with 38 this time last year) are at a three-year low.
The spike has prompted a wave of funding commitments from all levels of government. Last month, the federal, provincial and municipal governments all pledged to help curb mounting gun violence in Canada’s largest city, promising $1.5-million each for a total of $4.5-million. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have said that much of the gun violence is gang-related.
Toronto Police Services spokeswoman Constable Caroline de Kloet said she does not know if any of Monday’s shootings are gang-related, and that no arrests have been made.
A man was shot in the leg around 7:10 p.m. on National Street near Midland Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East. Police say the suspect and other males fled in a black or dark grey car. No more details were made available.
The second victim, a man, was found at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport hotel, near Highway 27 and Dixon Road, just after 10:30 p.m. with a gunshot wound to the stomach. Constable de Kloet said police are searching for a silver sedan.
Officers responding to a report of “multiple gunshots” at 8:53 p.m. at 101 Humber Blvd., near Weston Road and Black Creek Drive, found blood and shell casings, but no victim.
In the final shooting of the night, police were summoned at 10:42 p.m. to Willowdale and Byng avenues in the north end. Shots had been fired through an apartment window. No injuries were reported.
At the end of August, the Ontario government announced it would invest $3-million to increase the number of closed-circuit TV cameras in Toronto, which Mr. Ford says will help police fight gun violence and put criminals behind bars. That is in addition to its $1.5-million contribution.
Days later, the province announced what it plans to do with an additional $54-million from Ottawa to be spent over the next three years for anti-gang initiatives. The province will fund two teams of Crown attorneys specializing in large gang-related trials and bail hearings for people charged with illegal firearm use, and for anti-gang initiatives among Ontario police forces.
Mayor John Tory has proposed pulling the city’s share of the $4.5-million pooled for Toronto police – $1.5 million – from the city’s Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve, its rainy-day fund. City council will vote on this request in early October.
“This additional funding is an important step in addressing a need to keep our streets safe," Mr. Tory said at the Sept. 6 budget committee meeting.
He added that he would continue to advocate for "changes to our laws to strengthen penalties for those caught engaging in gun violence or gun trafficking.”