Toronto Mayor John Tory is tying a shooting that claimed two lives in the city’s bustling entertainment district to gang violence, although a police spokesman would not go so far.
Police say two men were killed and a woman was injured after shots rang out in front of a downtown nightclub near the corner of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Saturday evening.
Speaking to media about the incident at a Canada Day event Sunday morning, Tory linked the shooting to gang violence, saying people with ties to gangs are “the only ones that pose a threat” to the city.
But Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said he couldn’t confirm that the shooting was linked to organized crime.
On Sunday morning, Hopkinson said he expected investigators to release the names of the deceased later that day, but by Sunday afternoon he said he could not confirm when the identities would be released.
Tory said he’s spoken with the city’s police chief, and he knows officers are working hard to “round these people up and get them off the street.
The mayor also renewed his call for systemic action to keep people accused of gun crimes off the streets.
“Some of these people who are out on bail … have been doing this repeatedly,” he said.
“We can’t have people getting out on bail 20 minutes after they’re arrested for using a gun.”
According to police statistics for 2018, there had been 199 shootings in the city as of June 25, and 22 people killed by gun violence. There had been 170 shootings by the same time last year, the statistics show, resulting in 16 deaths.
The latest violence — on a busy downtown street in broad daylight — has some Torontonians feeling unsafe in the city.
Carrie Ma, 18, was having a barbecue on the rooftop of a residential building near Saturday’s incident. She happened to be taking a video of her friends as the gunshots were fired, and the sound is captured on the clip.
“Most of us have never heard gunshots before so we thought it was fireworks going off a day early for Canada Day, but then we began to hear sirens coming towards us,” said Ma, who is originally from nearby Richmond Hill, Ont.
“I’m about to enter university and I will be living downtown, so it’s a little scary,” said Ma, who will soon begin studying at OCAD University.
“It’s making me doubt whether I should live downtown — although I know it could happen anywhere.”