Distressed community members in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood are calling on Mayor John Tory to take concrete steps to eliminate gang-related violence in the city.
The call came after a brazen daylight shooting that saw a 12-year-old boy injured by a stray bullet.
“These kids weren’t born with guns in their hands, they didn’t aspire to be gang leaders, something brought them to that place and we need to figure out why and how to get those guns out of their hands and to give their life purpose,” said Evelyn Fox, an advocate for mothers who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.
In 2016, Fox’s son Kiesingar Gunn was shot and killed outside a bar in Liberty Village.
“I don’t want anyone else’s family to feel what my family feels. It’s devastating, you have to live with it every single solitary day, every time another occurrence happens, you’re triggered and it brings you right back to the moment,” Fox said.
On Sunday morning, Tory visited the scene of the latest shooting at Jane and Stong Court.
According to police, two men drove into a parking lot and opened fire on a second vehicle, which had five people inside, three of whom were hit. Numerous rounds were fired by two suspects and a 12-year-old boy walking with his mother in the area was struck by a stray bullet.
“The streets know, the people know and we’re still seeking justice so there has to be an answer. There has to be an answer to end this gun violence,” said Shauna Brown, who is a friend of Fox’s.
Brown’s son was shot and killed in their driveway in July of 2017.
As of Sunday evening, police don’t have any suspects or potential descriptions. Interim Chief James Ramer said he believes this is gang-related violence and community members say teens are regularly recruited to these groups.
“The bigger man uses them all of the time to do all of this criminal activity,” Maureen Archibald said.
It is an angle police are exploring.
“What kind of gang activity do we have on and what are the relationships in the area and who could have been involved? So it’s that kind of stuff that we’re tracking down,” Ramer said.
“We got to keep working with the youth in the community, we got to keep offering them alternatives and, like I say, it’s not just a policing problem — it’s all levels of government, it’s the community itself.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Tory has agreed to meet with stakeholders concerned not enough is being done to clean up the streets.
“We try to invest the money, because it is public money, in a way that is going to be most effectively used to help reduce crime, increase opportunity, address particular problems of marginalized communities have here and we’re just going to have to redouble our efforts,” Tory added.
Community members hope elected officials make combating gun violence the number one priority.
“We should not be ignoring what’s going on — it’s far overdue,” Reverend Delroy Sherman said.
“It’s just ignorance that we say we can’t do nothing about it.”
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