Toronto shooting incidents up 140% over last year: police data

As a North York neighbourhood continues to reel from the random bus stop shootings over the weekend, some community leaders are raising the alarm bells over a major spike in gun violence. Shauna Hunt reports.

The fatal shooting of an innocent man at a bus stop that was preceded by a shooting in the same spot 24 hours later has left a North York community reeling and community leaders are worried about a spike in gun violence to start the year.

Adu Boakye, a 39-year-old man, was shot three times while walking near a bus stop at Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue. The day before a 16-year-old boy was shot in the face near the same intersection. He remains in critical condition. Both were innocent bystanders.

According to Toronto police data, so far in 2024, there has been a 140 per cent increase in the number of shooting incidents compared to the same time period in 2023.

Louis March with the Zero Gun Violence Movement said they have seen shooting homicides trending downwards in the last five years, but the numbers compared to last year are concerning.

“I’m hoping that it’s an outlier and not a new trend,” said March.

“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.”

He said it needs to be addressed right away.

“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.”

Toronto police Supt. Andy Singh said they are keeping an eye on 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 community feel safe and we’ll continue to do that,” said Singh.

Police have stepped up patrols in the community in light of the ongoing safety risk and say the force is doing all it can to ensure residents in the area are safe.

Area city councillor Anthony Peruzza said he thinks the community and police have made great strides and he hopes the downward trend over the five years continues.

“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 said it’s up to everyone to help not let this escalate.

“The police have to work closer with 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 agreed.

“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.”

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