"Strong indications" that gangs may have been involved in last night's shooting, which left two dead and another 21 injured.
“Unprecedented for the city of Toronto.”
That is how Police Chief Bill Blair described last night’s gun fight at 205 Danzig Street, in the vicinity of Morningside and Lawrence. He briefed media at 11 a.m. on the course of the investigation thus far; here is a summary of that briefing:
- The shooting took place at 10:40 p.m. last night, at a block party; about 200 people were in attendance at its peak. Blair said police hadn’t received prior notification of the event, and responded to a couple of noise complaints earlier in the evening.
- A total of 23 individuals have suffered gunshot wounds of some kind or other.
- Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene: one 14-year-old female, and one 23-year-old male. Their next of kin have been notified, but police are not releasing their names until the homicide squad completes its formal identification process. Updates from the homicide squad are expected later today. Police have now released the names of the victims. They are Shyanne Charles, 14, of Toronto and Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax.
- The remaining 21 injured range in age from a 22-month-old infant, who suffered a grazing injury and is expected to make a full recovery, to a 33-year-old. One male is currently in surgery and is listed in critical condition. All others are expected to recover from their injuries, and several have been released from hospital.
- Police believe the incident involved a total of two shooters who were targeting each other (as opposed to a shooter or shooters targeting the crowd), and that the injured were bystanders. Specifically, Blair said that both of the individuals who were killed were “completely innocent and caught in the crossfire.”
- One firearm was recovered at the scene, but Blair would not confirm if it was one of the two handguns that was fired last night.
- Police have one individual described as a “person of interest” in custody, but would not comment on how this person fits into their investigation, which is very much active and ongoing. Blair is urging anyone with knowledge of the shooting, video from earlier in the night, or any other information to call the homicide squad at (416) 808–7400.
- Police are “very concerned about the potential for retaliatory violence,” Blair said, and thus it is essential that suspects be brought into custody as quickly as possible. There are, Blair continued, “strong indications that there may have been gang involvement” in the shooting; the Guns and Gangs unit is investigating alongside the homicide squad.
- Blair is dispatching extra uniformed officers to the area where the shooting took place, as well as to any other areas where police believe there might be a risk of retaliatory violence, in an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating further.
- Though Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) officers have had a presence in the area in previous years, this summer TAVIS deployments were in other neighbourhoods. TAVIS officers will be partially redistributed in response to last night’s shooting.
Blair reiterated that Toronto is still a safe city, despite last night’s horrific events, and resisted attempts by the press to describe this as another so-called ‘Summer of the Gun.’ “Right now we are dealing with a very specific crime,” Blair emphasized, refusing to say that this, combined with the Eaton Centre shooting in early June, signaled any larger trends. “There will be a time in the future to reflect on what this means for the city of Toronto,” he concluded, urging calm in the meantime.
This sentiment was echoed by a shaken-looking Mayor Rob Ford, who also spoke with media this morning, and similarly called for the press to resist the temptation to jump to conclusions about crime in Toronto. He called this and the Eaton Centre shooting “a couple of unfortunate and isolated incidents” and described Toronto as “the safest city in North America.”
More to come.