Toronto police say two men were killed in an apparent double homicide in the city’s Greektown neighborhood, where a gunman killed an 18-year-old woman at a birthday party and then opened fire in an open street Sunday.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said one of the dead men was 21 years old and the other was 23 years old.
Police, who have not released the victims’ names, are investigating if the shootings are linked, but Saunders cautioned that it was too early to confirm that.
“We still have a lot of work to do and there’s a lot of intelligence to gather,” Saunders said.
He did say, however, that a second firearm was recovered and police found what they believe is a second body nearby.
The shooting took place shortly after midnight Sunday.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as they tried to help the wounded and escape gunfire in the crowded community of Greektown, a neighbourhood located near Toronto’s culinary and arts hub of Little Italy.
At least eight people were injured. One was in critical condition, two others were in serious condition and another had moderate injuries, Saunders said.
“Obviously it’s something we’re not used to dealing with in the city of Toronto,” the chief said.
He said police have been in contact with Greektown residents for several weeks, gathering intelligence about a violent gang war being waged in the area. The police commander told reporters the gangs were not targeting individuals, but rather the territory, and residents need to be vigilant.
It was the city’s second deadly weekend in less than a week, following the death of 15-year-old Reese Fallon, who was shot in the chest on Sunday. Two days earlier, a driver was killed in a car crash caused by a fleeing suspect.
In the shooting on Sunday, three men ran into the front door of an apartment building after the gunman opened fire in the street. Investigators said that a handgun was recovered at the scene.
Cavazos said that the shooting occurred in an area where violence is relatively common, but adding that residents are glad that the deadly bout of bloodshed is coming to an end.
“I’m so grateful that it is completely controlled down here, but it has happened before,” she said. “We heard shots and thought it was fireworks, and then we realized it was gunshots.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the weekend’s two incidents underscore the need for change in the city’s streets.
“Once again this weekend we have experienced, unfortunately, another tragic loss of life in Toronto, this time in our Greektown neighbourhood,” he said. “We are now discovering more about the circumstances of these deaths, but our hearts, our prayers, our outrage about the deaths of these young people and the grief and sadness they have caused should be directed at their families and friends.”
Tory called for the city to look at how its resources are allocated.
“If someone is in need of services, there is more than one place they can go in the city,” he said. “If they have mental health issues, there are places they can get help. If they feel unsafe, they can seek support. If they are a victim of crime, the police are there to help them. All of us have a responsibility to do more to support people who are in crisis or experiencing any sort of challenge and we need to do better.”