Fourteen-year-old Lecent Ross was fatally shot with an illegal, semi-automatic weapon in Toronto on Thursday morning in what a police detective described as a preventable and "suspicious" tragedy.
Officers were called to a house on Jamestown Crescent, a street near Martin Grove Road and Finch Avenue West in the city's northwest end, around 10:30 a.m. ET.
'People knew about this gun, it didn't just show up.'- Det. Rich Petrie
Ross had been shot in the upper body and was raced by paramedics to a trauma centre, but she was pronounced dead later that morning.
Det. Rich Petrie told a news conference the shot came from an an "illegal, prohibited, semi-automatic handgun."
He said investigators are looking into reports the shooting may have been accidental, and are treating the death as suspicious.
"People knew about this gun, it didn't just show up. It came from somewhere. Somebody knew about it, somebody could have called Crime Stoppers," Petrie said.
"Somebody was aware of that gun and they chose to turn a blind eye, and this is where we are."
The gun, a .40-calibre short-barreled Smith & Wesson, has been seized, those present at the time of the shooting are being questioned and investigators aren't looking for any suspects, Petrie said Thursday afternoon.
Visiting the house
Police said there was an adult and other children present at the time of the shooting. The adult did not witness the shooting but is co-operating with the investigation, Petrie said.
Petrie said Ross was visiting the house and had no family members with her.
The gun will be tested for DNA, fingerprints, and ballistics to determine if it's been used in any other incidents in the city, he said.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the girl fired the fatal shot or if someone else was involved.
"I'm certainly not ready to say this was done intentionally by her or even an accident by her," Petrie said.
Petrie said charges will be laid when police find out who the gun belongs to and who fired the weapon.
Petrie said that part of the city, Rexdale, and the city in general have seen too much gun violence.
"It's unbelievable — the number of guns in this city," he said.
Ross's mother, Alicia Jasquith, spoke briefly to reporters Thursday evening. Flanked by loved ones and clutching photos of her daughter, she said she was "shocked and devastated."
"My daughter — how could this be? What did I do?" she said before being overcome by tears.
An area resident, who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, said Ross often babysat her three children. She said Ross was an intelligent and respectful girl who was looking forward to attending high school.
The woman said Ross taught her children to write their names, and taught them right from wrong.
"She was an excellent kid."
The woman told CBC News she fears for her life and the lives of her children because of the violence that has plagued Rexdale, and the Jamestown neighbourhood in particular. But she also spoke out against the area's bad reputation.
"There are actually some people that live here and work here and have good educations," she said. "We're not all drinking, drugging and warring with guns."