Toronto shootings have spiked 140% compared to 2023

Shootings in Canada’s largest city have already increased by 140% this year, when compared to the same time period in 2023, according to data from Toronto Police. 

The latest data comes as a 16-year-old boy at a North York bus stop was gunned down and only 24 hours after the shooting, a 39-year-old man was fatally shot three times at the same intersection of Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue.

The 16-year-old remains in critical condition. 

Both victims were innocent bystanders. 

Toronto police Supt. Andy Singh told CP24 that they are monitoring the increase. 

“We had a 10-year low based on our efforts to specifically be in this community, officers on foot, connecting with the community, creating spaces that make the community feel safe and we’ll continue to do that,” said Singh.

Police increased community patrolling in response to the heightened safety risk posed to residents after two shootings.

Toronto had been seeing a decline in shooting homicides over the last five years, however, the first two months of 2024 are showing a concerning pattern. 

“I’m hoping that it’s an outlier and not a new trend,” Louis March with the Zero Gun Violence Movement told CP24. 

“We cannot afford to have to double the number of shootings compared to last year, and also, the thing with shootings is that there are concerns for retaliation. If it’s gang-related, there’s going to be retaliation when, where, and how. So everybody’s going to be at the level of fear and despair that is needed at this particular time.”

March stressed the importance of dealing with the situation before it gets worse. 

“So this year started off with bullets flying, at least in this neighbourhood…. and there’s something going on there that needs to be addressed. And we cannot wait until tomorrow to address it.”

City Councillor Anthiony Peruzza remained optimistic about the continuation of the five-year downward trend in shootings, saying he thinks that police have made great headway in restoring a sense of safety in the community. 

“We’ve learned to reclaim our spaces. I think there’s better engagement between the public people in the neighbourhood and the police. There’s a really good neighbourhood officer units that have been set up in this area that have built up really good relationships with locals,” said Peruzzi.

March called upon community members to take responsibility upon themselves as well as cooperating with local authorities to keep the issue from escalating. 

“The police have to work closer with the community right now, the government officials in the city has to be on the spot because they have their plans,” said March.

Perruzza echoed March’s sentiments. 

“We need more engagement because we are our own best safety net; if you see something, speak up because that’s the way we deal with it. That’s the way we get to the bottom of it,” said Perruzza. 

News of the spike in shootings comes on the heels of the largest gun bust in Ontario history through a joint investigation between Ontario Provincial Police and U.S. authorities.

Handguns and assault-style rifles were among the 274 illegal firearms seized as part of what was called Project Saxom.

The operation was part of an OPP-led investigation in cooperation with Dual Approach, a U.S. Homeland Security Investigation probe launched out of their field office in Buffalo, NY. 

U.S. investigators seized 168 guns heading for Ontario and the OPP seized an additional 106 guns that had already made it into the province. 

Five separate criminal networks were ultimately identified by the investigation. 

The majority of guns seized in Ontario originated in the U.S.  

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