12-year-old boy critically injured in ‘brazen’ North York shooting was innocent bystander: police
Published Saturday, November 7, 2020 2:45PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 8, 2020 2:00PM EST
Toronto police say a 12-year-old boy who was shot and critically injured in North York was an innocent bystander who was out shopping with his mother Saturday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to an apartment building in the area of Jane Street and Stong Court, just north of Finch Avenue West, around 2:20 p.m. after reports of shots fired.
Interim police Chief James Ramer said two vehicles attended the parking lot of the building.
"Two of the occupants of one of the vehicles got out and ran towards the second vehicle and started firing," Ramer said.
He said the suspects chased the vehicle outside the parking lot and fired multiple shots using semi-automatic firearms.
The suspects then fled in their vehicle and were last seen northbound on Jane Street.
When officers arrived, they located a 12-year-old who had been struck by a bullet while he was walking with his mother on the west side of Jane Street, Ramer said.
The boy was rushed to a trauma centre, where he is in critical condition. The mother was not physically injured.
Ramer said they later located three occupants of the second vehicle, all teenagers, suffering from gunshot injuries a short distance away at a residence on Driftwood Avenue.
A 17-year-old boy was transported to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, while the two other victims suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and are in hospital in stable condition.
Ramer noted that a total of five people were in that vehicle when it was being shot at. He said officers recovered multiple shell casings in the parking lot.
"It's just a brazen shooting," Ramer said. "It's just a callous disregard."
"It's not definitive yet that it's gang-related, but it certainly has all the hallmarks, and that's what we're prepared to address."
When asked if the victims returned fire, the chief said he does not have that information at this time.
Ramer said several houses were also struck by bullets during the incident.
A man, who does not want to be identified, said his 16-year-old daughter was in her room when a bullet flew through the wall just a few feet away from her.
"She thought it was fireworks," he said. "But it wasn't."
"I've never seen anything like this in my life."
The man said he is thankful that his daughter was not physically injured.
However, he said his family was shaken by the incident. The man said his wife saw the boy lying on the ground after being shot.
"It's just been a beautiful Saturday afternoon," Ramer said. "There were lots of people out here at the time, and it's just it's disgraceful that this 12-year-old boy was shot."
"We're fortunate there's only been that innocent victim given all the people that were out here today."
Police have not released descriptions of the suspects or the suspect vehicle.
Ramer said the community is upset, and they told him that they don't feel safe.
"We're going to have a lot of additional resources here in the area tonight," he said. "We're moving some assets into other areas where we think there might be a bit of a conflict."
Mayor John Tory called the shooting a tragedy and said he is continuing to work with the police on combatting gang activity.
"We’re working hard, we’re supporting the police, we’re trying to get some laws changed. We’re making big investments in some of the communities where the gang activity is prevalent but it’s frustrating because there’s no easy answer. If there was an easy answer I would have implemented it by now," Tory told CP24 Sunday morning.
He added that gang activity is a "deeply disturbing trend" in Toronto and across North America.
In a statement, Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he is very concerned about the shooting.
“This senseless violence has become all too common and must stop,” Blair said.
“We will continue to work with our partners to end gun violence and to make communities safe. We must support law enforcement, invest in resilient and safer communities and strengthen gun control.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.