Man arrested after Rexdale birthday party shooting that left girl, 5, in critical condition

A 24-year-old man has been arrested on charges related to a shooting on Saturday evening that left a five-year-old girl in critical condition, Toronto police say. 

The man was one of the people injured in the shooting at a children’s birthday party in the Rexdale neighbourhood of northwest Toronto. 

He has been identified as Demar Cadogan, 24, of Toronto. He has been charged with discharging a firearm with intent along with three other charges related to possessing prohibited or regulated firearms without a licence and registration certificate.

The shooting at Byng Avenue and Tandridge Crescent left three children with gunshot wounds — a five-year old girl, a one-year-old boy and 11-year-old boy — along with Cadogan.

The five-year-old girl is still in critical condition while the one-year-old and 11-year-old boys have been released from hospital, police said. 

Police have not revealed who Cadogan was allegedly shooting at, or if any of the bullets he is alleged to have fired hit the children. Investigators have released no information so far about any other suspects.

Police say the investigation remains ongoing and that anyone with information should contact 23 Division at 416-808-2300 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.

Gun violence worsened by lack of support: advocates

Gun violence in the city has dropped in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Toronto police statistics. As of June 20, 2021, Toronto had seen 164 shootings, 16 deaths and 64 injuries from shootings, down from 203 shootings, 22 deaths and 69 injuries at the same time last year.

At the same time, advocates say the nature of the violence has worsened over time, and that chronic underfunding for communities like Rexdale contributes to the problem.

Jamaal Fyffe, the vice principal at the Elms Junior Middle School down the road from the area where the shooting took place, said the community needs more support from the city. 

“We are absolutely devastated. We are concerned about the resources that are in this community, not just when tragedy strikes, but on an ongoing basis,” said Fyffe. For example, he said, local parks are very poorly maintained. 

Fyffe said he can’t speak yet as to whether any of the children at the birthday party attended the school. He and other staff members from Toronto District School Board visited the community to offer support to the affected families.

Marcell Wilson, co-founder of the One By One Movement, works directly with one of the families affected. The One by One Movement is made up of ex-gang members and former extremists working to prevent youth from taking the same path. 

Wilson said they’re doing what they can to bring community members to support the families and eventually get them out of the area. The community has been underfunded and struggled with gang violence for years, he said, adding that it needs better access to supports such as recreational centres. 

“When we came here in 2019, we lobbied to every sector of the government, we lobbied to Toronto Community Housing, that this area in particular needed some special attention,” he said. “Unfortunately we have to see things like this happen to get the attention that is much needed for this area.”

Nature of violence has worsened: ex-gang leader

Wilson added that the extreme and brazen nature of the violence — firing weapons at a children’s birthday party — is different from the past.

“As a former gang leader, in my day, this type of violence would never happen,” he said. 

“There was an old-school way of doing things,” he added. “No woman, no children. If you have an issue with somebody, you came and dealt with that person specifically. In my time, if you were armed and the other person wasn’t, you would pass your arm [to someone else] and you’d fight it out. What we’re seeing now is sort of unexplainable.”

Marcell Wilson, co-founder of the One by One Movement, says gun violence has become more brazen. (CBC)

He said the One by One Movement works to identify risk factors for extreme acts of violence. Some factors that may explain the changing nature of the violence are the role of social media in escalating confrontations — what Wilson calls “clout-chasing” — and the rise of narcotics that he didn’t have access to when he was young, he said.

It’s still unknown whether the shooting was gang-related, but Wilson said he believes that’s likely, based on the area.

The families he has spoken to desperately want attention to be paid to the needs of the community, he said.

“They’re terrified, they’re traumatized, they want help, they want resources. They want things around here to change and they’ve wanted that for a while,” he said. 

“This is an us problem, not a marginalized community problem, this is not a Black problem. This is a Torontonian problem. Help us, and help these people.”

Fatal shooting early Monday

The weekend saw another shooting in the early hours of Monday, when a man in his 20s was killed in the northwest end of Toronto. 

Police said they were called to the area of Clearview Heights and Trethewey Drive to find the man suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The victim was discovered only steps away from where 32-year-old Brendon Kirk Daley was gunned down last week. Daley died on June 13 in the same area while attending a party.

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