Man, 21, charged in Toronto playground shooting that injured 2 girls

A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder after a shooting in a Scarborough playground in the east end of Toronto injured two young girls.

Sheldon Eriya faces attempted murder charges, mayor says time to 'round these people up'

Sheldon Eriya, 21, of Markham, Ont., has been arrested and charged with seven offences in connection with a Scarborough playground shooting that injured two young girls. (Toronto Police Service)

A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder after a shooting in a Scarborough playground in the east end of Toronto injured two young girls.

Sheldon Eriya, of Markham, Ont., was arrested on Friday in Pickering, Ont., Toronto police said in a news release on Saturday. Two male suspects are still at large, police said.

Eriya has been charged with:

  • discharge firearm.
  • two counts of attempted murder.
  • two counts of aggravated assault.
  • possession for the purpose of trafficking, cocaine.
  • possession of proceeds of crime.

The accused appeared in a Toronto courtroom on Saturday, was not granted bail and was ordered to be remanded in custody for a hearing on Thursday in Scarborough via video link. 

Several of Eriya's family members were in the courtroom.

Eriya was quiet, stating only his name, and at times used his hand to hide his face. He was wearing a white jumpsuit and holding what appeared to be clothes in his hand.

On his way out of court, Eriya waved to his family as he was escorted away.

Police said in the release they would like to thank the community for being "extremely helpful" in the investigation.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at 10 Alton Towers Circle, near McCowan Road and Steeles Avenue in Scarborough, around 5 p.m. Thursday. (Greg Ross/CBC)

The girls, who are sisters aged five and nine, were rushed to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children after the shooting on Thursday afternoon at 10 Alton Towers Circle, south of McCowan Road and Steeles Avenue East.

The younger girl was shot in the abdomen and the older girl was hit in the ankle. Both underwent surgery but are expected to recover.

The hospital did not provide an update on their condition Saturday, but in a statement released by the hospital on behalf of the family thanked the community for their support and made an appeal for the girls' privacy. 

"We wish to send our thanks to the entire community for the outpouring of support during this crisis. The response has been overwhelming and we can't express our gratitude enough," the statement released by SickKids said.

"At this time the focus is on the recovery and rehabilitation of the girls. We ask that you keep them in your prayers for a speedy recovery."

Man believed to be intended target

Emergency crews were called to the scene around 5 p.m. ET.

Eleven children were in the small park at the time along with a man, who was believed to have been the intended target, police told reporters at the time.

On Thursday, Det.-Sgt. Jim Gotell told reporters that the girls were shot when a gunman arrived at a nearby parking lot in a vehicle. He approached the park on foot and opened fire before fleeing. 

At least seven shots were believed to be fired.

'You are not going to terrorize this city'

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he talked to the mother of the girls on Saturday and she said they are doing "very well." 
Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters on Saturday that the police have told him there is a connection between guns, gangs and drug trafficking in the Greater Toronto Area. (CBC)

The mayor thanked the police for making the arrest, which he described as "huge progress" in the investigation. He said they now have to arrest the other two suspects.

"We got to get these people off the street and serve notice to everybody else who carries a gun and who would even think of doing such a thing. They're going to be rounded up and we're going to make sure that they are put away," he told reporters at city hall on Saturday.

"I sure think it's time for us to be very aggressive in rounding these people up who carry these guns around and brandish guns and use guns, and just saying: 'You are not going to terrorize this city, and you are not going to engage in this kind of anti-social, unacceptable behaviour.'"

Tory said he visited the area on Friday night and said this incident is not typical of that neighbourhood, but people do need to look out for each other, with the help of police.

The mayor said the remaining two suspects are entitled to their day in court but he urged them to surrender to police because their behaviour has been "reprehensible." 

Connection between guns, gangs and drugs in GTA

The criminal justice system should "show no mercy to people who engage in this kind of behaviour," he added.

He said police have told him that there is a connection between guns, gangs and drug trafficking in the Greater Toronto Area.

On Friday, Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford also said after the shooting that those responsible will be caught.

Police seize car

Also on Friday, police located a vehicle that may have been involved in the shooting. It was found at Liverpool Road and Kingston Road in Pickering. 
Police located for this black, four door Nissan Versa sedan on Friday. (Toronto Police/Canadian Press)

Earlier on Friday, police had released images of a black, four-door Nissan Versa sedan (model between 2007 and 2011), but have not confirmed if the seized vehicle is the getaway car and the same vehicle pictured in the photos. 

Police said Saturday that one vehicle remains outstanding and the investigation is still active.

School board provides support

After the shooting, the school that the two girls attend was contacted. 

And in a statement on Friday, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) condemned the shooting.

"TCDSB is on public record in support of legislation to curb gun violence in the city, and indeed across the country," it said.

The school board said supports are in place for staff and students as they try to deal with what has happened.

"These supports will remain in place as long as needed." 

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-4200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Greg Ross, Dexter Brown and Derick Deonarain