Two people were shot and killed and multiple people were wounded by gunfire this weekend in the Greater Toronto Area.
More than 25 people have been shot in Toronto in the past 10 days, a number increased by a particularly violent long weekend between Aug. 2 and 4th when 17 people were shot.
Shooting incidents are on the rise in Toronto compared to past years. The number of gunshot victims has climbed substantially, from 329 last year at this time, to more than 390 as of this weekend. But the overall number of gunshot deaths is down. So far this year, 19 people have been killed by gunfire in Toronto, compared to 30 by this time last year.
The violence has extended into the GTA. In Vaughan, north of Toronto, York region police investigated a shooting that left a man dead Saturday. He was shot just before 2 a.m. and checked himself into hospital, but died shortly after.
In a separate incident, a man was shot and killed and another wounded Friday afternoon near an elementary school in East York on Wakunda Place near O’Connor Drive. The victim was identified as Kevin Reddick, 29. It was Toronto’s 37th murder since the beginning of the year.
Police said the murder was tied to gang activity and are looking for suspects driving a black Audi who opened fire on the two victims.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Friday that an increase in street gang activity is behind the recent spike in shootings, adding that police would be changing their strategy to address gun violence – without providing details.
In July, 49 people were shot in the city. So far, in August, 26 have been hit by gunfire, averaging out to more than two a day. Last year, by the end of the same month, 53 people had been shot. If the current trend continues, this month will be one of the most violent, in terms of people hit by bullets, since police began tracking shootings in 2004.
In another bout of violence, a 16-year-old boy was shot early Sunday morning near Donlands Avenue, also in East York. He was transported to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Police arrested another youth nearby who had a firearm in his possession.
Also Sunday morning, a man was shot near the corner of Carlingview Drive and Dixon Road in Toronto. Police described his injuries as serious.
Not all instances of gunfire this weekend resulted in injuries. Toronto police responded to at least two other calls where shell casings were found, but no victim was located.
In Burlington, west of Toronto, police responded to a call where a man who answered his door after hearing the doorbell ring was assailed by bullets from a parked car across the street. He was uninjured, but the projectiles hit his garage and a neighbour's pickup truck.
Halton region police, responsible for Burlington, noted the incident was unusual in the suburban town.
“This is a very rare occurrence in the City of Burlington and there have not been any other recent reports of firearms being discharged in this manner,” they said in a statement.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has called for a handgun ban in the city as a way to take guns off the streets, an idea that has been opposed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who maintains that a ban would do nothing to take illegal firearms away from criminals.
Four men were arrested early Saturday in Etobicoke after police found an illegal loaded handgun in their vehicle. Police were called when neighbours noticed the men were intoxicated and about to enter a vehicle after a night of partying. They were all charged with multiple firearms-related offences.
Gun violence is statistically more frequent in the summer months according to Toronto police data, although there are outliers: in December, 2018, for example, 79 people were shot in Toronto.