A veteran cop who is in charge of 23 Division in the city’s Rexdale neighbourhood says that he is “pissed off” with the level of violence in the community and the “complete disregard for life” shown by a small group of criminals.
Supt. Ron Taverner made the comment to reporters on Thursday afternoon as he released surveillance footage of three separate shootings in the neighbourhood over the last five months where the victims just happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
No arrests have been in any of the shootings, which Taverner described as “vicious” and “horrific.”
“I am pissed of that the people of this community have to put up with this and you know there are good people in this area,” he said. “Ninety-nine per cent of these people are good people that deserve better and we are trying our best to do what we can to eradicate the gun violence but quite frankly we can’t do it alone. We need help.”
“Total disregard for human life”
One of the videos released by police on Thursday was of a shooting on Driftwood Court on June 10. The video shows three armed suspects approaching two people and robbing them of their belongings.
At some point during the robbery, one of the suspects is then seen pistol-whipping one of the two victims who falls to the ground between two parked cars. The video then shows the suspects running away but they return a short time later and fire multiple shots at the victim on the ground at point-blank range.
Taverner said the victim in that case sustained multiple gunshot wounds and remains in hospital.
One of the other videos released on Thursday was of a shooting on Pittsboro Drive near Martin Grove Road and Finch Avenue on Aug. 30.
The video shows two men walking down an alleyway and “shooting randomly at people,” Taverner said.
Two people who were outside having a barbecue sustained minor injuries in that shooting.
The third and final video shows a shooting that occurred on Jamestown Crescent on Oct. 30.
Two suspects are seen opening fire on two people walking through a parking lot in that footage. After one victim falls to the ground, the video shows one of the suspects standing over that person and continuing to discharge their weapon.
The victims in that case both sustained gunshot wounds. Taverner said that one of them was shot in the arm and treated and released from hospital while the other remains in hospital with more serious injuries.
“We should be concerned as a community about this level of violence. When you see this level of violence, when you watch people laying on the ground and having people firing their guns at them, that is disturbing,” Taverner said. “It is just a total disregard for human life. These people are just unbelievable. The words I have, I can’t really say for what these people are.”
Shootings not believed to be related
Tavener said that none of the shootings appear to be related but he said that they “highlight” the level of violence taking place in the northwest corner of the city.
He said that about 40 per cent of all firearm discharges in Toronto occur in three police divisions located in northwest Toronto.
A joint task force made up of officers from all three divisions was launched in the spring to address the rise in gun violence in the area but Taverner said that police “can’t be everywhere” and need help from the community in identifying and arresting some of the perpetrators.
Taverner, however, admitted that people are often afraid to come forward and said that he would be too if he lived in one of the areas where gun violence is so prevalent.
"People are afraid and if you lived in one of these areas you would be afraid too as I would be,” he said. “The reality is there are ways that people can come forward and help us identify these people and go out and arrest them and get them off the streets."
There have been a total of 352 shootings across Toronto so far in 2018 compared to 321 at this point last year.
In the three police divisions in the northwest corner of the city (12, 31 and 23), there have been a total of 127 shootings. That is compared to 118 at this point last year.
Of the 127 shootings in the northwest corner of the city, 14 have resulted in deaths and 42 have resulted in injuries.