Two young girls, ages five and nine, were shot while playing on a playground in a residential area of Scarborough in broad daylight.

Officers were called to Alton Towers Circle, located in the area of McCowan Road and McNicoll Avenue, at around 5 p.m. Thursday for reports of shots fired nearby. There were 11 children in the park at the time, according to investigators.

Det.-Sgt. Jim Gotell told reporters at the scene that at least seven shots were fired at the time.

“A male approached the park with a handgun and started to fire into the park,” he said. “At the time of the shooting the male suspect was on foot and he left the area in a car.”

Gotell said police believe the intended target of the shooting was a male who was at the park at the time. Officers are looking to speak with this unidentified male as a person of interest in this shooting investigation.

Toronto paramedics initially told CP24 that the five-year-old victim was taken to hospital in critical condition, while her nine-year-old sister was transported with non-life-threatening injuries.

Gotell later confirmed that both of the girls were in non-life-threatening condition.

Paramedics said a third victim was assessed at the scene but had no injuries.

Speaking to reporters at the scene, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders called the incident “despicable” and “disturbing.”

“This is very early right now and the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “We’ve canvassed through video, we are canvassing homes in the neighbourhood and we’ve got lots of resources here. Right now we are definitely looking for a subject with a firearm that was last seen driving out of this area.”

“We are going to do everything we can to restore safety in this neighbourhood.”

Police have not provided descriptions for any possible suspects or suspect vehicles wanted in connection with the investigation. Gotell said there is no threat to public safety in the wake of this incident.

When asked about gun violence in the city, Saunders said the recent spike is not out of the ordinary for the city.

“This is the same thing that we go through every summer so let’s be very clear that when we look at our numbers there’s not this tremendous spike – there hasn’t been. When we do have shooting incidents they do go in peaks and valleys right across the city that happens every single year. I’m not happy with it so I’m not here to say all is well.”

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack called out Mayor John Tory in a tweet about the shooting on Thursday night.

“Horrific shooting of two children today in city’s east end,” McCormack said in the tweet. “Is this Mayor Tory’s vision of a safe city? Gun crime up 18 per cent, a police officer recently shot, random shootings in public places. Time to show some leadership.”

Tory said in a statement that he wants “no stone left unturned” while dealing with this shooting.

“I cannot imagine the anguish the family and friends of the two girls shot while playing in a park are experiencing tonight,” he said. “This entire city wants these girls to make a full recovery and this entire city wants justice for them.”

“I know the police will do all they can to arrest the cowards responsible for hurting these girls.”

Tory said the city will work with officers to bring “swift justice” to those responsible for this “heinous crime.”

Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford tweeted about the incident.

“Heard about the two children shot near McCowan Road and Steeles Avenue,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. I will be monitoring the situation closely.”

Roads have been blocked off in the area as police investigate the incident.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact investigators.