What police describe as a "calculated execution" of two 23-year-old men is prompting authorities to take a hard look at a Rexdale neighbourhood where seven young men have been shot to death this year.
All were killed within a kilometre or two of the Martin Grove and Albion Roads intersection. Most of the cases remain unsolved.
In the most brazen attack to date, four unidentified men gunned down Tyrone King and Craig Palmer in broad daylight in a public-housing complex Saturday. Two other victims remain in hospital. Police are hoping to talk to them.
The most recent shootings have sparked renewed fears about criminal gangs and prompted a cry for help from Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino.
"We're really mopping up after the fact here," said Chief Fantino, who is calling upon community and political leaders for better crime-prevention strategies. "It can't be left to the police."
Police describe Mr. Palmer and Mr. King as Mississauga residents who were known to authorities and to residents of the Etobicoke public-housing complex where they were killed.
"My impression is that it was a one-sided attack only," homicide Detective Gary Brennan said at a news conference yesterday. "We will be going through trying to establish links [to the other homicides] if there are any."
Constable Bruce Hunter of 23 Division's street crime unit said there aren't more gangs in North Etobicoke these days, but attacks have become more bloody.
"They're definitely becoming more violent, blatantly violent," he said. "There's obviously some kind of war going on."
Det. Brennan, however, was more cautious. The four gunmen, he said, "could be associated to a gang." But he couldn't explain whether the attack was "retaliatory or territory or whether it's just a pre-emptive strike."
Since April 5, five other men, aged 16 to 26, have been shot dead in the area. The latest was Mauro Tomasetti, a 26-year-old described by police as a drug addict, who was shot dead in a park adjacent to a school.
Outcry over the shooting deaths has been scant, in part because many residents of the public-housing complex and similar neighbourhoods don't trust police and are fearful of reprisals.
An area councillor said yesterday that many people are "fatalistic" about the shootings. "It's an old problem that has escalated," said Elizabeth Brown, who added she has heard talk of a turf war.
"It's really bad because people seem resigned to it."
Superintendent Glenn Paproski, unit commander of North Etobicoke's 23 Division, is planning to convene a community meeting about the latest shootings.