Toronto sees two fatal shootings in less than 24 hours

Toronto sees two fatal shootings in less than 24 hours
Neighbours, friends, and family eat and drink at the Reese Fallon Legacy Scholarship fundraiser BBQ in Toronto's Danforth area on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Toronto‘s spate of gun violence continued on Wednesday with two people fatally shot in less than 24 hours.

The incidents came one month to the day after a deadly shooting rampage that shattered the peace of the city’s bustling Greektown neighbourhood and turned up the volume on conversations about a perceived firearm problem on city streets.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the latest shootings highlighted the need for a ban on handguns in the city, something local politicians have been calling for since last month’s shooting spree.

“As mayor you can imagine the sense of heartbreak that I feel every time, up to and including the last 24 hours, something like this happens,” Tory said. “These incidents often happen in spikes, but that doesn’t make anybody feel any better … The bottom line is that we have to keep Toronto safe.”

The first of Wednesday’s shootings took place on Danforth Avenue, just blocks from the scene of last month’s Greektown shooting that killed two people and injured 13 others.

Police said 35-year-old Danny Morales died at the scene shortly after shots were fired at about 2:30 a.m. A 27-year-old Toronto man is charged with second-degree murder.

Hours later, shortly before 10 a.m., police were called to the city’s northwest corner after gunshots were heard in the area, Const. Caroline De Kloet said.

Officers found a 32-year-old man alive in a vehicle, but said he was pronounced dead a short time later. No suspect information has been released.

The deaths mark Toronto’s 64th and 65th homicides of the year, which has been dominated by increasingly urgent calls for action on gun violence.

That conversation intensified dramatically after July 22, when 29-year-old Faisal Hussain opened fire on a busy stretch of Danforth Avenue and killed 18-year-old aspiring nursing student Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont. Hussain was found dead in the area.

Police figures last updated on Monday show there had been 32 shooting homicides in the city this year, compared to 24 in the same time period last year.

The force’s data also shows it had documented 262 shootings this year as of Monday, compared to 246 by the same date in 2017.

Earlier this month, newly minted Ontario Premier Doug Ford pledged $25 million over four years to fight gun and gang-related crime in the city, with the lion’s share earmarked for Toronto police.

The remainder will go to establishing teams at city courthouses that will be dedicated to prosecuting gun crime cases. They will consist of an experienced Crown attorney with additional staff to focus on gangs and guns, Ford said.

Ford stopped short, however, of supporting Tory’s request for a handgun ban in Toronto. The mayor has said he would match provincial funding to fight guns and gangs if he is re-elected as mayor in a municipal election set for Oct. 22.