5 arrested after shots fired between condo units in Toronto, gun recovered
'Terrifying incident' the result of a ghost hotel, says Councillor Joe Cressy
Five people have been arrested and a gun has been recovered after a shooting that sent bullets through the wall of a condominium into the unit next door, Toronto police said Tuesday.
Const. Caroline de Kloet said officers were called to the downtown building shortly before 3 a.m. for the sound of gunshots.
No one was hurt in the incident, she said.
Lucas Timmons, a journalist with The Canadian Press, said he was asleep when he heard what sounded like a door slamming around 2:30 a.m.
He said he first thought it was just the occupants of the next-door unit, which he describes as a short-term rental, being noisy.
A few minutes later he said he heard another loud bang followed by the sound of glass breaking.
When he got out of bed to investigate, he noticed his dryer door had been shattered.
Luckily I wasn't doing laundry at the time or I'd be dead. <br><br>Thanks for allowing criminals into my home <a href="https://twitter.com/AirbnbHelp?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AirbnbHelp</a> <a href="https://t.co/XB1opqVjtG">pic.twitter.com/XB1opqVjtG</a>—@lucastimmons
"As I kept looking, I saw there was a hole through one of the photos on the wall I had hung," Timmons said. "I thought, 'Wow, that looks like a bullet hole."'
Timmons said he then noticed a bullet on the floor.
He said he called building security and then dialled 911.
Officers showed up within minutes and shortly thereafter got him down to the lobby, Timmons said.
The force's tactical team then headed upstairs, Timmons said, adding that he later saw five people in handcuffs.
Timmons said he is still processing what happened.
"If I was doing laundry at the time, I'd be dead," he said. "My bed is along the same wall, so I'm lucky they shot where they were shooting and not 15 feet over."
De Kloet said the incident remains under investigation and added that those arrested will be charged.
Ghost hotels lead to "tragic incidents"
Joe Cressy, who chairs the Toronto Board of Health and represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, said this "terrifying incident" is the result of a ghost hotel and inaction from short-term rental operators like Airbnb.
"This is all too common in many of our downtown condo towers, which is precisely why the city implemented a bylaw to prohibit this type of short-term rental, and it's precisely why we need the short-term rental operators such as Airbnb to de-list their properties that don't comply," Cressy said in an interview with CBC News.
Stricter bylaws for short-term rentals came into effect in September, but Cressy said even the threat of a fine of up to $100,000 isn't enough to dissuade some bad operators.
Fairbnb, a national coalition of about 15 organizations calling for fair regulations for short-term rentals, issued a release calling on the city to ensure that condo corporations do their part to follow City of Toronto bylaws.
"Toronto's ICE towers have long been a hot spot of Airbnb activity in Toronto," the release said.
"Now that short-term rentals are regulated [...] the vast majority of commercial short-term rentals in ghost hotel towers
like 12 York St. are clearly violating those regulations."
Cressy added that ghost hotels are a detriment to safety and short-term rental operators can and should do more to stop them.
"[Ghost hotels are] a recipe for problematic neighbourhoods; a recipe for a lack of rental housing, and far too often [they lead] to tragic incidents like we saw the other evening."
With files from CBC News