TORONTO, Ont. – As police vow to hunt down the suspects involved in Monday’s mass shooting in south Scarborough, area residents fear retaliation.
Community leaders held a vigil on Danzig Street on Tuesday night to remember the victims and also to call for an end to gun violence. People made makeshift memorials at the scene of the shooting, including a poster that read “Forever in our Heart, Pray for Shyanne.”
However, some residents in the area don’t think the violence will stop. “I’m terrified — I’m ready to move out of this neighbourhood,” one woman said.
On Tuesday, Toronto police identified the two victims of Monday’s barbecue shooting in Scarborough as Shyanne Charles, 14, of Toronto and Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax.
They both died after gunfire erupted at an outdoor community barbecue. A total of 25 people were shot, including the two who died and a 22-month-old who was grazed by a bullet. Another person was trampled. It’s been called the worst shooting in Toronto’s history.
Yasay was a co-owner of the Goodfellas Barber Lounge in Ajax, while Charles was a straight-A student who had just completed Grade 9 at West Hill Collegiate Institute.
In a statement Tuesday night, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford declared war on gangs. Read it here.
It was issued Tuesday evening after he spoke with Premier Dalton McGunity, who also agreed to work with the city and federal government on measures to fight gang violence.
Ford said the three levels of government will use every legal means to make “life miserable” for gang members, calling them “spineless cowards” who will be put “behind bars” or “run out of town.”
Blair confirmed there were two shooters with possible gang involvement. A man who was shot and wounded is in police custody and is considered to be a person of interest. Toronto police are investigating whether he may have been one of the shooters.
“There was more than one individual who was discharging a firearm in this altercation,” Toronto police Chief Blair said at a news conference late Monday night. “We have had quite a number of people injured so I think it gives you some sense that there were many shots fired at the scene.”
Police said a weapon has been recovered.
At a news conference, Tuesday, Ford insisted “Toronto is the safest city in North America” and added that the shootings at the Eaton Centre, Little Italy and now in Scarborough were all isolated incidents.
The shooting happened just after 10:30 p.m. on Danzig Street, in the Morningside Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East area. Chief Blair said the shooting took place at an outdoor community barbecue.
“It was an altercation that took place within the event itself,” Chief Blair said. “Our preliminary information is that it was a shooting that took place in and amongst the crowd at the event at 193 Danzig.”
Witnesses told CityNews there were as many as 200 people in attendance.
Police are asking people to send them any images and videos taken immediately before, during and after the shootings via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, call them at 416-808-4330, or use the upload form located on the Toronto Police Service website.
A young child, around two years old, was injured in the gunfire, but the injuries are considered to be non-life threatening.
Among the other injuries include: a 20-year-old woman who was shot in the back, an 18-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman taken to a Scarborough hospital with gunshot wounds, while a 19-year-old man was among five people taken to St. Michael’s Hospital.
Chief Blair told 680News this is the worst incident of gun violence he has ever seen.
“It’s difficult to describe. This is not only unprecedented in Toronto, I’ve been a cop for 35-years and this is the worst incident of gun violence, in my memory, anywhere in North America. It’s a very shocking event. A lot of innocent people were injured tonight,” Chief Blair said.
Officials said there were six ambulances on scene to treat patients.
The homicide unit, as well as members of guns of gangs, the intelligence unit, the emergency task force and officers from surrounding divisions were called in to assist in the investigation.
Early Tuesday morning, Mayor Rob Ford released the following statement:
“I am shocked and disgusted by this senseless act of violence. While we try to understand this tragic event, I want to assure residents that this horrific, criminal behaviour will not be tolerated in our City.”
“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and friends.”
When questioned about the recent gun violence in the city, Ford maintained that Toronto is the safest city in North America, saying that the recent shootings at Eaton Centre, Little Italy and now Scarborough were all isolated incidents.
Gene Jones, the president of Toronto Community Housing Corporation, said this is a senseless tragedy and said he’s never had to deal with anything like this.
He told 680News why witnesses may be reluctant to come forward.
“Plain and simple, they’re just scared. They don’t want to give any information as to what happened because police may knock on the door and say ‘weren’t you the one that gave me this information?’ And there’s so many people watching … I’d be scared too. Unless you go away from the site, somewhere where there’s a secure area or somewhere that’s very public, that’s where you’ll get your information,” Jones said.
Jones said the plan is to post post extra police officers in the area Tuesday night and also wants to get grief councillors in to help to calm down the neighbourhood.
Police are asking witnesses to contact the homicide squad at 416-808-4330 (direct line) or anonymously to 416-222-8477. Witnesses can also upload photos and/or videos from that evening here.
This shooting is the fourth such brazen incident of its kind happening in a crowded place across the city.
The first one happened on June 2, when gunfire erupted inside the Eaton Centre, and then a shooting on a crowded patio in Little Italy on June 18. There was also gun violence at Ashbridges Bay on Canada Day.