Deaths of young men renew questions about guns in Toronto

The death by gunfire of three Toronto teenagers in just over four weeks has renewed questions about how guns are getting into the hands of young people across the city.
Jarvis Montaque lived in this house on Jamestown Crescent in Toronto's Rexdale neighbourhood. (Jermaine Hylton/CBC News)

The death by gunfire of three Toronto teenagers in just over four weeks has renewed questions about how guns are getting into the hands of young people across the city.

Toronto police Deputy Chief Peter Sloly told CBC Radio's Metro Morning there are many ways that guns wind up being fired on city streets.

Some come across the border from the United States. Others are stolen from those who own guns in Canada.

In some cases, they can be shared among multiple parties as a so-called community gun.

"Call it a library for guns," Sloly said during an interview on Tuesday morning.

"Sometimes people, groups of people, get together, they say: 'We need access to a firearm.' They plant it out in the public space, hidden of course. And they are aware of its location and then they can go and use it."

Sloly said police are doing everything they can to grab these guns before they can be used to take a life or harm people in the city.

"We seized over 2,000 firearms last year and we are making every effort to make sure that our guns and gangs unit are given the best intelligence possible to interdict these firearms at the earliest point possible," he said.

"But this is the nature of the beast — it's a commodity."

Three young lives lost

The latest fatal shooting in Toronto occurred Sunday evening, when Jarvis Montaque was shot outside his home on Jamestown Crescent.

Toronto police have released a photo of Jarvis Montaque, 15, who was shot and killed near Jamestown Crescent late Sunday. (Toronto Police Service)

The 15-year-old had been in Canada less than two years at the time of his death. He will be brought back to Jamaica to be buried.

Family say that the slain teenager was not involved in criminal activity.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Supt. Ron Taverner described Montaque as a "very innocent young man" who was a student at Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School.

"From all accounts that we have, he was a well-liked young man who was a good student and not in any way involved in anything in the community that he shouldn’t be," Taverner said.

When speaking on Metro Morning, Sloly said Montaque’s death is one of many of troubling incidents of gun violence that have ended a young person’s life in Toronto.

"These are all tragic incidents: Jane Creba, Chantel Dunn, Jordan Manners and now Jarvis [Montaque]," he said.

Prior to Montaque's killing, Toronto had already seen two other young people slain by gunfire since late January.

On the evening of Feb. 11, a 15-year-old male was fatally injured in a shooting inside a third-floor apartment located at 40 Turf Grassway, in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area.

Police later identified the victim as St. Aubyn Rodney. A 17-year-old male now faces a charge of manslaughter in his death.

His death came just over three weeks after another 15-year-old, Tyson Bailey, was fatally shot inside a Toronto Community Housing building in Regent Park.

On Jan. 18, Bailey was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 13th floor stairwell of the building at 605 Whiteside Place. He later died in hospital.

Police say he was targeted.

Ford says money's not enough

In a bid to tackle gun violence in the city, Mayor Rob Ford met with former premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the so-called Danzig Street shootings where 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay lost their lives.

Some money was committed, but not the millions Ford was after.

However, Ford said on Tuesday that it takes more that throwing money at the situation.

"We've invested money into the programs and throwing money at it is not the solution. It's not working. I don't know what else I could do," said Ford.

"I'm trying to get these kids out of gangs and get them in school. We're trying our best."

The city has invested in arts and sports programs. Ford urges more people to volunteer with troubled youth to keep them from going down the wrong path.

"Maybe if they want to help volunteer and do something, call me. I'll try to get them in connection with a group or organization that are looking for volunteers."

"A lot of times, they don't have anyone to turn to when they have problems. They have no one to listen to them.