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Mark Saunders

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13 injured, 2 dead in Danforth shooting

Over a dozen people are injured and two victims have died following a Toronto shooting that took place on July 22 at approximately 10:00 p.m. in the Greektown neighbourhood.

An unnamed 29-year-old shooter was armed with a handgun and open fired on pedestrians in Toronto’s popular Danforth and Broadview area. The shooter was also pronounced dead in a nearby alleyway after an altercation with police, though reports have yet to confirm whether he died from police gunfire or if he took his own life.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke with reporters following the attack.

“Approximately 15 people have been hit with gunfire,” Saunders told reporters. “There are 15 in total. One is the alleged suspect, the other 14 are victims. I can tell you that one has succumb to their injuries at this point in time. A young girl is in critical state right now and the other 13 are in hospital and being treated.”

Regarding motive, Saunders told reporters that he’s keeping every option open. “I’m looking at absolutely every possible motive for this. When you have this many people that are struck by gunfire, it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to speculate as well. Once we have a better concrete picture of exactly what happened and what the motivation was behind it, we definitely will be having a further conversation on that.”

He added that he didn’t believe the shooting was random. “I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders also asked any witnesses to come forward, including those who may have dash cam footage.

Mayor Tory then spoke with reporters, saying that he wanted to reiterate a few points from Saunders. “First of all, people should not reach any conclusions because the police themselves have not drawn any conclusions as to exactly what happened here and why,” he said. He added that he also wanted to reiterate Saunders’ call for help from any witnesses who may have seen something.

“Please don’t draw any conclusions, please wait for the police to do their job,” he continued. “They have plenty of police resources here.”

He added that the families of the victims have the city’s thoughts and prayers.

The Danforth shooting comes just three months after Toronto’s deadly van attack. When reporters questioned what Tory had to say to those who were still recovering from the previous attack, he said, “It’s almost inconceivable these kinds of things can happen. We were too used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and we saw them going on in the world around us we thought they didn’t happen here, or couldn’t, or shouldn’t.”

“I can just say to people that they should try to stay calm while the police do their job because we have to figure out what happened here. We don’t know.” he continued. “[…] Please just comfort your fellow Torontonian. These things, you can never brush them away and I’m angry about them. I’m angry when these kinds of things happen in the city and lots of people would be angry about it.”

Tory added that Toronto has a gun problem and that firearms are too readily available to people who aren’t the police. “We clearly have to do more about to because there are too many people who are carrying around guns and using them in whatever manner they use them in whatever connection,” he said. “That’s part of what we shouldn’t conclude, just that there was a gun used. We have a gun problem and I just hope every step is going to be taken by all those who have responsibility.”

Video footage of the shooter opening fire on civilians was posted to Twitter in a four-second clip.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted out as well saying that his heart went out to the victims and thanking the Toronto police for responding so quickly.

Toronto leaders speak out amidst current gun violence

After the weekend shooting in Toronto’s Kensington Market, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Premier Doug Ford, and Mayor John Tory have released statements on the current state of the city.

On Saturday evening around 8:00 p.m., shots rang out at Peter Street and Queen Street West and left two rappers dead and one woman in the hospital. The two rappers were identified as Smoke Dawg (Jahvante Smart), 21, and Koba Prime (Ernest Modekwe), 28.

The violence didn’t end on Saturday, however. On Sunday, police were called to the College Street and Augusta Avenue area when shots rang out around 10:30 p.m. Reports say that four people were injured during the crime. After the shooting, four suspects were seen fleeing the scene but police have yet to release a description of them.

Since the shootings took place on Canada Day, one of the busiest times in Toronto, Chief Saunders spoke with CP24 about the gun violence. “This is not the norm,” he told CP24. “Right in broad daylight on some of the busiest intersections of our city where there is gunplay. The gunplay usually occurs at night in particular neighbourhoods where there is not as much capacity of people. The brazenness is a concern.”

He added that the violence can be traced back to gang violence. “This is pointed to specific people. A random person walking down the street, it is highly unlikely that they are going to be in harm’s way,” he added.

A statement released by Tory read: “The unacceptable gun violence we’ve seen in the last few weeks has left me incredibly angry but resolved to work with the police to stamp it out. As Mayor, the safety of our city is my top priority and one that I share with Chief Mark Saunders and the men and women of the Toronto Police Service. That’s why we’re hiring 200 police officers this year, why I’ve always advocated for tougher gun control and tougher bail conditions for gun crime, and why we’re modernizing the police service to ensure there are more officers patrolling the streets.”

He added that he spoke with Chief Saunders who said that police are working to get to the bottom of the crimes. He also said that he plans to reach out to Premier Doug Ford and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to discuss how they can better their efforts to combat gang violence.

“As I said at City Council last week, we need to toughen up bail guidelines for those caught committing gun crimes. Countless police officers – from constables to the Chief himself – have told me how frustrated they are by the fact someone they arrest for a gun crime can be back out on the street on bail quickly and ready to cause more mayhem. That is not right and that is something we can stop right now,” the statement also read.

Tory added that the city leaders need to work together to deploy more police and support law enforcement to keep criminals behind bars.

On Monday Ford released a statement on Twitter saying: “My heart goes out to the victims of the shootings in Toronto over the Canada Day long weekend. This has been a very difficult summer in our city, and thoughts and prayers just aren’t going to cut it anymore. We need action.” He added that Toronto is home to the greatest police officers and “we need to make sure they have the resources to round up these criminals, build relationships in communities, and prevent these shootings.” He concluded his statement by saying he looks forward to meeting with representatives from Toronto police forces to city leaders and law enforcement can work together to end “this senseless violence.”

Hopefully, Toronto’s leaders can band together to successfully get to the bottom of the gun violence currently happening in the city and make its citizens feel safe again.