Shots fired at all-girls Jewish elementary school in North York

Toronto police say while they won't "ignore the obvious" it is too early to tell if an early morning shooting outside an all-girls Jewish elementary school in North York is a hate crime or a terrorist act.

Toronto police say it is too early to tell if an early morning shooting outside an all-girls Jewish elementary school in North York is a hate crime or a terrorist act.

Police were called to the school around 9 a.m. Saturday after evidence of gunfire was discovered at the Bais Chaya Mushka School for Girls, located in the Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue West area.

Investigators say just before 5 a.m., at least two suspects arrived at the school in a dark-coloured vehicle and opened fire from outside the gate, causing damage to the front of the building. The suspects then returned to their car and fled the scene.

There were no reports of gunshots being heard in the area at the time of the incident and no injuries have been reported.

Insp. Paul Krawczyk of the Guns and Gangs Task Force says it’s too early in the investigation to say for certain if this is a hate crime or a terrorist act but the force’s Hate Crime Unit will be involved.

“We’re not going to ignore the obvious, what has occurred here, what the target of the shooting was but at the same time it would be wrong to just guess at this point,” he said in an afternoon update.

“I completely understand that this can cause concern and fear and anxiety in the community, especially when it happens at a school like this and especially with the students, the parents and the staff.”

Krawczyk says he is aware of a video that appears to be of the shooting incident, however, he is asking that members of the public refrain from circulating the video and allow the police to do their investigation.

“I don’t want members of the public looking and determining what they believe is important in this investigation for us to know, and if they think something that they saw or have on video at their house or business doesn’t exactly match what they see in this video, I don’t want them to discount it. So I want them to call the police.”

Krawczyk added there will be an increased police presence in the community as they investigate the incident as well as at other schools and synagogues.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow explained the expanded police presence.

“They will be increased presence around schools, synagogues and other places where your families gather,” Chow said.

“Our city manager and the head of transportation and others are doing safety walks in different locations to make sure security cameras are shatter-proof and in place.”

Chow, along with Education Minister Stephen Lecce, and other politicians and community leaders were at the school on Monday to address the incident and offer support.

“These students have a right to learn,” Chow, who faced at least one loud heckler, said. “Their teachers have a right to teach in safety, and you and your families have a right to be safe. I came here to tell you, you are not alone … and my word to the shooters — it’s a despicable antisemitic act. It’s a disgusting attempt to intimidate the community, to fill people with fear.”

“And we say to these cowards, we will find you. You will be held responsible. I’m here to stand with you to say that antisemitism is like cancer.”

Lecce appealed to the non-Jewish community “to stand up and speak up against the vile rise of antisemitism being normalized on the streets of this country. To stand up to those who seek to instill fear in the hearts of young girls and children.”

“We are here with a message asking Canadians to step up shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community in defence of democracy, civility, human rights and the rule of law.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued a statement, calling the shooting a “clear, calculated, and premeditated targeting of a Jewish school for girls.”

“The fact a school was targeted regardless of whether kids were present or not represents another worrying escalation in the violence Jewish Canadians have been experiencing,” read the statement. “We’ve continuously been raising awareness of the troubling increase in antisemitic incidents that are becoming more violent and threatening. The stress and anxiety this creates for the Jewish community cannot be understated, but it is also of utmost importance that we continue to take part in Jewish life. We will stay vigilant, but we will not be intimidated.”

Michael Levitt, CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, described the shooting as a “shocking escalation of violence” directed at Jewish children and called on political leaders to take stronger action to curb hatred targeting Canada’s Jewish community. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it a “gross display of antisemitism” and asked anyone with information to contact police.

“It’s beyond belief that anyone could be this hateful. Every student deserves to feel safe at school,” he said in a post on X. “These cowards need to be found and brought to justice.”

York police have also said they will be increasing police presence around Jewish education centres and places of worship in light of recent incidents in Toronto.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today