A premature baby delivered via emergency C-section shortly before its mother died from gunshot wounds is in stable condition, Toronto police said Monday as they appealed to the public for help identifying those responsible for the “outrageous” death.
Police said Candice Rochelle Bobb, of Mississauga, Ont., died late Sunday night when she was shot while returning from watching a basketball game.
They said the 35-year-old woman was in a vehicle in the city’s northwest end with three other people at the time of the shooting. The occupants of the vehicle were not known to police, but officers said the vehicle was the clear target of the shooting.
Bobb, who was five months pregnant, has become Toronto’s 29th homicide victim in a year that’s seen a marked increase of guns on city streets, police said. There were 56 documented homicides in Toronto last year.
Divisional Supt. Ron Taverner said the “outrageous” death comes at a time when police are dealing with a spike in violence for which they have not identified a cause.
“There’s no doubt that there’s obviously more guns on the street. More young people and people in general carrying guns,” Taverner said. “It’s a sad day when we have to come together to talk about a woman being shot and not knowing what it’s about…The outrage in the community is phenomenal.”
Police declined to speculate on the number of shooting suspects they’re seeking in Bobb’s death. They indicated the shots were fired from a vehicle, but did not provide descriptions or details citing the early phase of the investigation.
Police said the shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. as Bobb and three others were returning from an organized amateur men’s basketball league game.
The shots rang out as the car stopped to drop off one of the people in the car, police said, declining to say whether the person in question was Bobb herself.
Police did not release any information about Bobb’s baby, but data suggests the infant faces a difficult struggle for survival.
The World Health Organization says pre-term birth complications are the leading global cause of death among children under the age of five, leading to a million deaths in 2013.
The WHO said about 15 million children around the world are born before 37 weeks gestation.
Taverner said the latest homicide has been a particular blow for the community.
“We’re all kind of in shock…The whole city is outraged that this can happen. Yes, this woman was pregnant, and hopefully this baby survives, but any shooting is very tragic. Anything where people are going to that level of violence is just disgusting.”
Police are appealing to anyone with information about Bobb’s shooting to come forward.
Toronto Mayor John Tory echoed the call for public assistance, condemning the deadly shooting as a “travesty” and saying no child should enter the world without a mother.
“Violence in any form in this city is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “There are always affected families, people left without their loved ones, but when bystanders are killed, when pregnant mothers are shot while driving in cars, we must all take action to prevent these tragedies from going unanswered.”